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Life after the White House: What the former First Ladies of the US are up to post-office

Hillary Rodham Clinton isn’t the only former First Lady making waves in advocacy, policy and charity work after leaving the White House.

rosalynn carter

Here, we take a look at what the other three living First Ladies are up to post-politics.

Michelle Obama

A lawyer and author before her time as First Lady, Michelle Obama has continued to be a powerful voice for education, gender equality, healthy lifestyles and poverty awareness.

On International Women’s Day 2018, she made a surprise visit to Washington DC’s Ballou STAY High School, where she discussed higher education with a student group. The topic is close to her heart, having started the ‘Reach Higher’ initiative while in office, which encourages every young American to pursue some form of tertiary or technical education.

Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama

She spoke about the need for the tech industry to include more women at the Worldwide Developers Conference in Silicon Valley and also tackled an ongoing lack of diversity in politics during her appearance at the Philadelphia Conference for Women. An in-demand public speaker, she will be the special guest at the upcoming United State of Women 2018 Summit.

Still a hugely popular figure, Obama has been the subject of ongoing speculation about a
possible Presidential run. Opinion polls have suggested she would win if she runs in 2020.

“Still a hugely popular figure, Obama has been the subject of ongoing speculation about a possible Presidential run.”

Unfortunately for her many supporters, however, she has made it clear she has no interest in the role.

Meanwhile, her memoir, Becoming, is one of the most anticipated books of the year and will be released in November 2018.

Laura Bush

A teacher and librarian by training, Laura Bush has remained heavily involved in advocacy for child literacy and education since leaving the Oval Office. She has also worked for womens’ rights in Afghanistan and she wrote a book on the oppression of women in the war-torn country in 2016.

Laura Bush
Laura Bush

Since leaving the White House, she has embraced some more progressive issues, most notably announcing her support of same-sex marriage in 2010. She has also worked alongside Michelle Obama on a number of initiatives and, despite their ideological differences, the pair have become close friends and collaborators.

Laura has also continued her interest in America’s National Park Service. With daughter Jenna, she wrote a children’s book titled Our Great Big Backyard which paid tribute to the service on its centenary. She also co-chaired the ‘Find Your Park’ campaign which encouraged young Americans to enjoy their national parks.

In 2017, Bush was honoured with a Women Making History Award. In a video tribute, Hillary Rodham Clinton paid tribute to her successor as First Lady: “Laura has dedicated her life to advancing literacy and education, advocating for human rights, and yes, standing up for the rights of women and girls to learn and participate fully in society.”

Rosalynn Carter

After leaving the White House, Rosalynn Carter returned to Georgia and threw her considerable energies into co-founding The Carter Center, a not-for-profit organisation which aims to promote human rights and public health. The centre monitors elections, promotes the democratic process and has been involved in mediating a number of longstanding international conflicts.

Rosalynn Carter
Rosalynn Carter with husband Jimmy

Rosalynn also has a particular interest in mental health advocacy and removing the stigma around these conditions. She formed the centre’s Mental Health Task Force, which she continues to serve as chair. Her committee work and testimony before Congress helped pave the way for legislation protecting mentally ill people from discrimination.

Another of her major projects was to argue for equal coverage of mental and physical ailments in insurance policies. This eventually became law in 2008. The centre also provides a fellowship in her name which provides stipends for journalists to cover issues around mental illness.

Now aged 90, Rosalynn is currently recovering from surgery to remove scar tissue, but until recently has been active in housing charities Project Interconnection and Habitat for Humanity. She has also served as a deacon in her local Baptist church.

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