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.
Question: What should be the big issues for the 2008 presidential election?
Julia Bolz: I would like to see the president nominee understand that we are a part of a bigger world, and the we have a responsibility as part of that. Right now our foreign aid budget is .01 percent of our Gross National Product.
Actually we are the lowest in the entire developed world. What if we were to raise that? Just to give you an idea, the area that I focus on, which is education for all, in the past two years we’ve given $465 million. We’re currently spending $60 trillion every year in Iraq. So if you do the math, that means two days worth in Iraq basically is the equivalent of what we’re spending on children per year. What if we doubled that? Wouldn’t that be amazing to change the world? And so for me, the bigger issue is the United States needs to re-engage in the world, take up its responsibilities. Most of these funds that I’m talking about have been . . . We’ve pledged billions, but what we’re giving is millions.
July 4, 2007