Mrs. Laura Bush shakes hands with President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, Sunday, June 8, 2008, during their press availability at the presidential palace in Kabul. White House photo by Shealah Craighead
Building A Hopeful Future For Afghanistan
Mrs. Bush Is A Leading Advocate For The People Of Afghanistan As They Rebuild Their Country
Since 2001, Mrs. Bush has helped focus domestic and international attention on the challenges facing the people of Afghanistan, particularly women and children. Mrs. Bush has highlighted the hope and determination of the Afghan people to build a free and secure country after years of tyranny and oppression. Her efforts further reinforce President Bush's commitment to support the men, women, and children of Afghanistan as they rebuild their country.
- In editorials, interviews, and public statements, Mrs. Bush has championed efforts to provide Afghan women the skills and education of which they were deprived under the Taliban. In 2001, Mrs. Bush was the first First Lady to deliver the Presidents weekly radio address when she spoke out about the oppression of women and children under the Taliban. Fewer than a million Afghan children were in school in 2001 all of them were boys. Today, more than six million Afghan children are in school about a third of them are girls.
- Mrs. Bush has made three historic trips to Afghanistan to underscore the United States commitment to the countrys rebuilding and development. Mrs. Bush has highlighted womens achievements since the fall of the Taliban, particularly the courageous Afghan women who have assumed leadership roles as teachers, students, doctors, judges, business and community leaders, and politicians. During each visit, she has advocated the vital role of education for achieving gender equality, fostering economic development, and strengthening healthcare.
- In June 2008, Mrs. Bush traveled to Bamiyan and met with the provinces governor Habiba Sarabi, Afghanistans first and only woman governor. Governor Sarabis appointment in 2005 was a historic milestone in the advancement of Afghan women. Mrs. Bush also visited the Bamiyan Regional Police Training Center where she met with several women police officers.
- Mrs. Bush routinely meets with Afghan students, teachers, parliamentarians, lawyers, and judges during their visits to the United States for education and training. Through private meetings and public events, Mrs. Bush urges the international community to help the people of Afghanistan build the civic and economic institutions that can withstand forces of oppression and ensure a future of hope and opportunity.
In Paris, on June 12, 2008, Mrs. Bush addressed the International Conference in Support of Afghanistan urging the international community to offer the political and economic assistance Afghanistan needs to recover from decades of war and oppression. Her remarks reiterated President Bush's support of a strong international partnership committed to Afghanistan's recovery. At the conference, Mrs. Bush announced a $10.2 billion pledge for U.S. assistance to Afghanistan. Total U.S. humanitarian, development, and security assistance appropriated since 2001 is more than $32 billion.
As Honorary Chair of the U.S.-Afghan Womens Council, Mrs. Bushs leadership inspires public and private partnerships to support Afghanistan. Created by Presidents Bush and Karzai in 2002, the Council focuses on concrete actions that help bring practical benefits to the women of Afghanistan, enabling them to participate and play leadership roles in the political and economic life of their country.
- To date, the Council has implemented more than 30 initiatives in the areas of economic empowerment, education, political participation, health, and childrens issues totaling approximately $124 million.
- In 2005, the Council established a special initiative to assist children called Ayenda which means future in Dari. Mrs. Bush visited the construction site of the Ayenda Learning Center in Bamiyan, Afghanistan, in June 2008. Funded by Afghan and American citizens, this school will provide a safe place to live or study for more than 200 children who were orphaned by the Taliban.
For more information about the U.S.-Afghan Womens Council, please visit www.usawc.state.gov