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时间:2018-07-08 03:18来源:互联网 提供网友:nan   字体: [ ]

First Ladies in Africa Creating Change for Women

Last month, The Washington Post published an opinion piece about reports that the United States government had separated 2,000 children from their parents.

The writer was Laura Bush, wife of former U.S. President George W. Bush. They live in Texas, close to the U.S. border with Mexico.

"I live in a border state," she wrote. "I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance1 policy is cruel...It breaks my heart."

In her letter, Laura Bush called for an immediate2 end to the separation of children and parents.

Three days after the Post published her letter, President Donald Trump3 signed an executive4 order to prevent future separations.

Bush was not alone in condemning5 the separation of children from their parents. But her voice as a former first lady was influential6.

Leading by example

Around the world, many current and former first ladies are able to influence events. These women often do not have legal power, but they lead by example. They can build support for social issues, and even shape local and foreign policies.

Cora Neumann is the creator of the Global First Ladies Alliance7, a U.S-based group that supports and connects first ladies around the world.

First ladies have unused potential, Neumann said. Their influence is often hidden from sight, but their power is real.

"They're in this position of power, potentially, and influence," Neumann told VOA. "But they're just disregarded9. And there was a real double standard there that caught me that I think it applies to women specifically."

Social issues

African first ladies often are involved with social problems involving education, women's health, economic empowerment and efforts against HIV/AIDS.

Monica Geingos, a lawyer, has been the first lady of Namibia since 2015. She has been working to help woman escape poverty through loans and training to become business leaders.

Kenyan first lady Margaret Kenyatta has led a movement to set up health centers in many parts of her country.

Sia Nyama Koroma served as the first lady of Sierra Leone from 2007 until just last month. A trained chemist and mental health specialist, she established the country's Office of the First Lady. Koroma created her office to support efforts aimed at improving education, training and women's empowerment.

Her efforts have been effective in dealing10 with the problem of mothers dying during childbirth, Neumann said. She praised Koroma for working with local populations and traditional religious leaders.

Leading without authority

First ladies often enact11 change not because of a legal order, but by using their position to influence action. This is something Neumann called "leading without authority."

"What we've seen in some of the countries in Africa, and you see here (in the U.S.) in ways as well, is that the first ladies are considered, and sometimes called, the mother of their country," Neumann said.

She added that the ability to shape behaviors at a local level, by meeting with villagers, can sometimes be more powerful than authority.

Neumann gave an example of Salma Kikwete, a former first lady of Tanzania. She and her husband went on live national TV to get tested for HIV, the virus responsible for the disease AIDS.

Lifting women

Empowering first ladies and those who work with them raises the standing12 of all women, Neumann said.

The Global First Ladies Alliance has worked with 45 current and former first ladies. Along with Africa, the group has organized meetings with women from the U.S., Britain, Latin America and Asia. At these events, the former first ladies can share experiences and learn from one another.

The alliance documents the exchanges and develops case studies. That has led to programs such as a fellowship13 program for top aides to first ladies.

"You're only as good as your best adviser," Neumann said, and that pushed her team to develop training for operating an effective office.

Growing influence

Over time, first ladies have gained respect and formed powerful contacts.

"We're just seeing first ladies continue to take on more and more of a visible and powerful role," Neumann said.

In the future, Neumann sees first ladies gaining even more influence.

"The more powerful they become, and the more visible they become — like we just saw in the United States — this speaking out and applying direct pressure is going to continue to become more important,” she said.

I’m Phil Dierking.

Words in This Story

authority - n. the power to give orders or make decisions?

disregard8 - v. to ignore (something) or treat (something) as unimportant14?

double standard - n. a situation in which two people, groups, etc., are treated very differently from each other in a way that is unfair to one of them?

first lady - n. the wife of the U.S. president?

potential - n. a chance or possibility that something will happen or exist in the future?

role - n. the character played by an actor?

tolerance - n. willingness to accept feelings, habits, or beliefs that are different from your own?

visible - adj. able to be seen


1 tolerance Lnswz     
  • Tolerance is one of his strengths.宽容是他的一个优点。
  • Human beings have limited tolerance of noise.人类对噪音的忍耐力有限。
2 immediate aapxh     
  • His immediate neighbours felt it their duty to call.他的近邻认为他们有责任去拜访。
  • We declared ourselves for the immediate convocation of the meeting.我们主张立即召开这个会议。
3 trump LU1zK     
  • He was never able to trump up the courage to have a showdown.他始终鼓不起勇气摊牌。
  • The coach saved his star player for a trump card.教练保留他的明星选手,作为他的王牌。
4 executive Ymlxs     
  • A good executive usually gets on well with people.一个好的高级管理人员通常与人们相处得很好。
  • He is a man of great executive ability.他是个具有极高管理能力的人。
5 condemning 3c571b073a8d53beeff1e31a57d104c0     
v.(通常因道义上的原因而)谴责( condemn的现在分词 );宣判;宣布…不能使用;迫使…陷于不幸的境地
  • The government issued a statement condemning the killings. 政府发表声明谴责这些凶杀事件。
  • I concur with the speaker in condemning what has been done. 我同意发言者对所做的事加以谴责。 来自《现代英汉综合大词典》
6 influential l7oxK     
  • He always tries to get in with the most influential people.他总是试图巴结最有影响的人物。
  • He is a very influential man in the government.他在政府中是个很有影响的人物。
7 alliance MLDyt     
  • China will not enter into alliance with any big power.中国不同任何大国结盟。
  • The new alliance was very much in evidence.新的联盟上星期很引人注目。
8 disregard cttxL     
  • You can't just disregard the security problem!你可不能忽视安全问题!
  • He did it in disregard of any advice.他不顾一切劝告做了这件事。
9 disregarded f8d32e60c5e09b5e80b96d73d8355d2e     
不顾,不理会,无视( disregard的过去式和过去分词 )
  • The board completely disregarded my recommendations. 董事会完全无视我的建议。
  • He utterly disregarded my warnings and met with on accident. 他全然不听我的警告,结果出了事故。
10 dealing NvjzWP     
  • This store has an excellent reputation for fair dealing.该商店因买卖公道而享有极高的声誉。
  • His fair dealing earned our confidence.他的诚实的行为获得我们的信任。
11 enact tjEz0     
  • The U.S. Congress has exclusive authority to enact federal legislation.美国国会是唯一有权颁布联邦法律的。
  • For example,a country can enact laws and economic policies to attract foreign investment fairly quickly.例如一个国家可以很快颁布吸引外资的法令和经济政策。
12 standing 2hCzgo     
  • After the earthquake only a few houses were left standing.地震过后只有几幢房屋还立着。
  • They're standing out against any change in the law.他们坚决反对对法律做任何修改。
13 fellowship Ekvxh     
  • You'll lose your fellowship if you do that.你如果做那件事就会丧失研究员职位。
  • It looks that they'll be admitted to the fellowship.看来他们要被吸收入会了。
14 unimportant OfHz34     
  • Let's not quarrel about such unimportant matters.我们不要为这些小事争吵了。
  • Money seems unimportant when sets beside the joys of family life.与天伦之乐相比,金钱显得微不足道。
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