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Global Diplomacy

Mrs. Bush is actively involved in supporting President Bush's global diplomatic efforts. As First Lady, she has traveled to more than 75 countries.  A leading advocate for literacy, Mrs. Bush has championed the power of education to foster healthy families and communities, advance opportunity for young people, and promote human rights worldwide, particularly for women and children. 

Global Literacy and Education

Illiteracy is a global challenge. According to UNESCO, more than 771 million adults around the world cannot read. Eighty-five percent of them live in just 35 countries and more than two-thirds of these illiterate adults are women. Literacy is essential for achieving the goals of eradicating poverty, reducing child mortality, fostering economic development, and achieving gender equality. 

  • As Honorary Ambassador for the United Nations Literacy Decade, Mrs. Bush convened leaders from around the world during the United Nations General Assembly in September 2006, for the White House Conference on Global Literacy to promote literacy. Her commitment inspired six subsequent regional conferences in Qatar, Mali, India, China, Azerbaijan, and Mexico.  By investing in literacy and education, governments meet their fundamental obligations by giving all people the opportunity to improve their lives, their health, their communities, and their nations.
    For more on the White House Conference on Global Literacy, click here

President and Mrs. Bush believe education has the power to transform individual lives, communities, and whole societies. Educated children help create a world of understanding and tolerance.  They are better able to handle life's challenges and more equipped for a promising future.  A leading advocate for the President's international education initiatives, Mrs. Bush supports education for boys and girls throughout Africa and the rest of the world.  She has participated in more than 70 education events in 37 countries.

  • During five visits to Africa, Mrs. Bush has met with many recipients of the Ambassadors Girls Scholarship Program.  As part of the President's Africa Education Initiative, the Ambassadors Girls Scholarship Program has awarded 375,000 scholarships in 40 countries, totaling $46 million.  These funds support girls in primary and secondary school helping them grow into educated members of their societies and play positive roles in the education, political, and economic sectors of their countries.
    For more on the President's Africa Education Initiative, click here

Global Health

Mrs. Bush is advancing health initiatives which are saving lives and healing countries. She has focused domestic and international attention on the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the President's Malaria Initiative (PMI), and global efforts for breast cancer awareness and research.

  • In visits to 10 of the 15 PEPFAR focus countries, Mrs. Bush has seen first-hand the success of this historic commitment to the fight against global HIV/AIDS.  PEPFAR is the largest international health initiative in history to fight a single disease.  This effort has helped bring life-saving treatment to approximately 1.73 million people around the world.  President Bush announced PEPFAR in 2003 as a five-year, $15 billion initiative.  In May 2007, the President proposed doubling America's initial commitment. 

  • Over the course of five trips to Africa, Mrs. Bush has visited 10 of the 15 countries aided by the President's Malaria Initiative (PMI).  Her leadership in the United States and abroad has helped mobilize public and private efforts to address malaria. The President and Mrs. Bush hosted the 2006 White House Summit on Malaria, bringing together international experts to establish a united effort to combat this preventable disease.

  • The United States is working in partnership with countries in the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas to end breast cancer.  During visits to eight different countries, Mrs. Bush has encouraged women to take charge of their health and emphasized the importance of screenings and early detection.  International partnerships between the U.S. Department of State, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, and partnering countries, are working to increase early detection and reduce mortality through improved awareness, increased clinical resources, and world class research. 
    • U.S. – Middle East Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research.  Announced by Mrs. Bush in June 2006, this Partnership has brought together governments, hospitals, researchers, and survivors in the United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Jordan.  In October 2007, Mrs. Bush announced the expansion of the Partnership to Egypt, Morocco, and the Palestinian Territories in 2008. 

    • Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research of the Americas.  At the White House Conference on the Americas in July 2007, Mrs. Bush announced this effort to unite experts from the United States of America, Brazil, Costa Rica, and Mexico to address the challenge of breast cancer in Latin America and the Caribbean. 


The United States is working with the international community to promote peace, stability, and reconstruction in Afghanistan.  Mrs. Bush has made three historic trips to Afghanistan – in March 2005, March 2006, and June 2008.  Her visits underscore President Bush's commitment to supporting the country's rebuilding and development. 

Since 2001, Mrs. Bush has helped focus domestic and international attention on the challenges facing the people of Afghanistan, particularly women and children.  On November 17, 2001, Mrs. Bush became the first First Lady to deliver the President's weekly radio address when she spoke out against the oppression of women and children under the Taliban.  Fewer than a million Afghan children attended school in 2001 – all of them boys.  Today, more than six million Afghan children are in school – about a third of them girls.  Since the fall of the Taliban, Afghanistan's infant-mortality rate has been reduced by almost 25 percent, and 85 percent of Afghans now have access to basic healthcare. 

Mrs. Bush serves as the Honorary Chair of the U.S.-Afghan Women's Council, created by Presidents Bush and Karzai in 2002 to promote private/public partnerships between U.S. and Afghan institutions and to mobilize private resources to ensure Afghan women gain the skills and education they were deprived under the Taliban.  To date, the Council has implemented over 30 initiatives in the areas of economic empowerment, education, political participation, health, and children's issues totaling approximately $70 million.  Mrs. Bush routinely meets with Afghan students, teachers, parliamentarians, lawyers, and judges during their visits to the United States for education and training.

For more on Mrs. Bush's efforts in support of Afghanistan, click here


For nearly 20 years, Burma's military regime has denied fundamental freedoms, violently crushed peaceful dissent, and jailed thousands of political prisoners.  Aung San Suu Kyi, the head of the democratically-elected National League for Democracy, has spent more than 12 years under house arrest since 1989.  The United States has called on the international community to support the people of Burma in bringing peaceful democratic change to their country.

Mrs. Bush actively supports the people of Burma as they struggle to free themselves from the regime's tyranny.  She has called on the regime to stop its terror campaigns against its own people; to release all political prisoners; to commit to a meaningful, unrestricted dialogue with opposition leaders; and to take steps to foster a democratic transition.  She has also called on the international community to refrain from purchasing Burmese gemstones, the revenue from which supports the repressive Burmese regime rather helping the people of Burma. Mrs. Bush has also met and held video-teleconferences with several Burmese activists struggling for freedom.

For more on Mrs. Bush's efforts in support of the people of
Burma, click here

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Remarks and Question and Answer by the First Lady at the Council on Foreign Relations
November 22, 2008
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Discussion with Mrs. Bush and First Lady of Panama Vivian Fernandez Torrijos During Visit to the National Oncology Institute

Mrs. Bush's Remarks and Remarks by Director of San Clemente Health Center Carmen Rocio Mora During Tour of San Clemente Health Clinic
November 21, 2008
Mrs. Bush's Remarks at Announcement of U.S.-Panama Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research
More »
Photo Essays
Mrs. Laura Bush is joined by President George W. Bush as she delivers remarks during a ceremony marking Malaria Awareness Day Wednesday, April 25, 2007, in the Rose Garden. Global Diplomacy
Click here to watch a video slideshow of Afghanistan that Mrs. Bush presented in Paris at the International Conference in Support of Afghanistan.

Latest News
Mrs. Bush's International Travel
U.S.-Afghan Women's Council
Global Health
Global Literacy
The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief
The President's Malaria Initiative
The President's African Education Initiative

Images From the President's Trip to Africa - Click to View Slideshow

The White House Symposium on Advancing Global Literacy

The White House Symposium on Advancing Global Literacy