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The White House
Office of Mrs. Bush
May 1, 2002

Remarks by Mrs. Bush at the Genesis Shelter Mother's Day Lunch

As delivered.

Thank you. I'm so happy to be here again with you for this Mother's Day Lunch and I'm pleased to have my mother with me again, too. People are always asking me what I do when I need a reassuring word. Naturally, I call my mother!

When we were here with you five years ago for this same occasion, I said one of the things I liked best about my job as First Lady of Texas was having the chance to travel around the state and to see the great work that places like Genesis do. Since then, I have had the opportunity to travel throughout the whole country and see many wonderful programs - and Genesis still shines as a program of great service to women.

I am honored to be the 2002 recipient of the Genesis Jane Doe Award, and I am grateful for your concern about the abuse of women wherever it occurs. One of the positive outcomes of the horrors of September 11th has been the galvanizing of world opinion and world resources on behalf of the women of Afghanistan.

Violence against women is a heartbreaking problem in our country and around the world. In recent months, we have all learned a great deal about the extent to which Afghan women have been held captive by a oppressive regime trying to pass themselves off as bearers of the Word of God.

Under Taliban, the rights we take so for granted as women in the United States - to go to school, to choose an occupation and practice it freely, to come and go as we please, to seek protection for ourselves and our children from domestic abuse - were harshly and systematically denied.

Today Afghan women are returning to the lives they once knew as professionals and as participants in their communities. And, girls are again allowed to attend school. The world community can be proud of these results.

Though you are kind to single me out for my participation in supporting the women of Afghanistan, the current American efforts reflect our country's long-standing commitment. Even before the events of September 11, Afghanistan was the United States' top recipient of humanitarian aid. The United States has played a leading role in meeting the Afghan people's urgent needs, and now we're committed to rebuilding the country.

  • We have committed at least $25 million dollars in job-creation programs. A number of these programs help Afghan women, many of whom lost their husbands during 23 years of war, work and support their families, In Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif, the U.S., in partnership with the UN, is supplying wheat to 29 bakeries run by widows, who will earn a living by selling bread to newly reopened schools.
  • Women and children who were forced to flee to refugee camps are now returning home to Afghanistan. The United States has helped more than 350,000 people return, and we have pledged more than $100 million dollars to support repatriation and community-based health, education, shelter, water and sanitation projects.
  • President Bush requested that American schoolchildren contribute a dollar each through America's Fund for Afghan Children. The result has really been something to cheer about, as children singly and in every sort of group have sent more than $4 million dollars for food, shelter, clothing, healthcare and toys for the children of Afghanistan.
  • Because educated women and children are key to a prosperous and peaceful society, the United States is committed to helping the Afghan people redevelop their educational system.

These are just a few examples of the many ways in which our country and the world community are mobilizing to improve the lives of Afghan women and children and restore Afghans to the life they used to enjoy.

Many people are making a huge difference in the lives of women and children half a world away. I salute you, the Genesis Auxiliary members, sponsors, staff and friends, who work tirelessly to make an equally vital difference in the lives of women and children right here at home.

Thank you for your encouragement and your dedication.

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