Julia Bolz is a women’s rights activist providing social guidance to countries in the Middle East, Africa, Central America, and Central Asia. She founded the Journey with an Afghan School program after 9/11 to help bridge the cultural divide between the U.S. and Afghanistan particularly by increasing the educational opportunities afforded to young women. Before joining the grassroots movement for gender equality, she worked at one of Seattle’s most prestigious law firms, Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland. She received Seattle’s Tom C. Wales Citizenship Award for her combined humanitarian efforts. Bolz graduated from Smith College.
Julia Bolz: When I first came to the Aspen Ideas Festival, I was very intimidated because most of the people here have written a book. They are an elected official. They are running a multi-national corporation. I spend much of my time in the developing world in a mud hut where there’s no running water or electricity.
And I think what it’s given me is to use my own words as the . . . showing me the power within me. And it has given me a voice and an opportunity to be an advocate for those people who really don’t have an opportunity to share their story. And there are very few of the individuals here – as much as they have traveled and they have been to the developing world – they haven’t had an opportunity really to experience through the eyes of the people who live there.
So what I value about this is that it’s given me an opportunity to share with them. And they are the policy makers. And my hope is that I’ve been able to maybe shape or influence them in such a way that they’re able to leave having a better understanding of the people that they touch.
July 4, 2007