Published for Glamour, October 31, 2011
When Laura Bush left the White House in 2009, she could have quietly retreated to her Texas ranch. Her twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara, could have launched lucrative careers or slipped back into private life. Instead, with little fanfare, this trio have become hugely powerful advocates on behalf of women, children and the world’s neediest. “We haven’t seen anything like this before,” says First Lady historian Myra Gutin. “They’re using their celebrity and credibility as a springboard for lasting good.”
It all starts with Mrs. Bush. “In Afghanistan she’s like Mother Teresa—a saint to women,” says political consultant Mary Matalin. Since 2001, when the then First Lady preempted her husband’s radio address to warn about the Taliban’s oppression of Afghan women, she’s been a driving force behind girls’ schools and women’s empowerment programs there. And building on her groundbreaking breast cancer work in the Middle East in 2006, Mrs. Bush just started the $75 million Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon campaign to offer cervical cancer care and breast cancer care in sub-Saharan Africa.