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 is the importance of building new schools?
Julia Bolz: Education is a building block to eliminating poverty, oppression, and extremism. And one of the things that we confronted when we first came into the country is that they needed everything. And we approached the leaders and we said, “What do you need? How can we serve you the most?” And time after time, there were the leaders who said, “Build us schools.”
And I think they were the first ones to realize that their communities were not going to change without education. Statistically, education is tied into all different statistics – child mortality, maternal mortality, land mind victims, harmful traditional practices like female genital mutilation, child slavery, early childhood marriage. And it’s all tied together. If you could educate the girls, you will change all those statistics.
July 4, 2007