For Immediate Release
Office of Mrs. Bush
July 29, 2002
(revised Tuesday 4/14)
Remarks for Mrs. Bush
Thank you, welcome everyone, and thank you, Ambassador Brinker, for
arranging this meeting and the beautiful centerpieces - they represent
books that will be donated to area school children in honor of
Hungary's "Year of Reading".
Thanks, also, to our hosts, the all-woman staff of Bagolvar.
This room is filled with women of power and promise. You use your
individual talent and your resources to build a better world, and I
Through your roles in business, government, education, diplomacy or
the arts, you help advance the progress of women. And as you share
your stories today, you honor the many women - mothers, grandmothers,
great grandmothers and role models -- who helped carry us to our
current ways of life; lives of opportunity and freedom.
Earlier this week I was in Paris to attend the Organization for
Economic Co- operation and Development Forum. Member countries,
including Hungary, gather regularly to discuss ways to improve the
lives around the world.
This year's forum focused on four themes: security, equity,
education and growth. All four are important - and I believe all four
hinge on one: education. Education opens the door of hope to all the
No matter what country you call home, no matter what our
differences in culture or custom or faith, one value transcends every
border: all Mothers and Fathers the world over love their children and
want the very best for them.
As President Bush said earlier this year in his State of the Union
address to Congress: "All fathers and mothers, in all societies, want
their children to be educated, and live free from poverty and
violence.No nation owns these aspirations, and no nation is exempt from
We all want our children to grow up in a world that is secure.
Women are central to this goal.
A vivid example of this truth is the appalling treatment of women
in Afghanistan by the Taliban regime. At the White House, I have met
with Afghan women who have told the heart-rending stories of the
Taliban's virtual house arrest and brutal treatment of women, and of
the absurd and tragic lengths to which men went to keep women in
submission. Girls were banished from school, and marginalized in
As a result, Afghanistan lost numbers in wealth, workforce,
brainpower, productivity, expertise and the professional support of
doctors, engineers, businesswomen, teachers. The nation lost its
In the world's thriving countries, women might take for granted the
ability to leave our homes and go to work every day, to help provide
for our children and participate in society.and to attend gatherings
like this one.
In Afghanistan, a country that has looked more like the Seventh
Century than the 21st Century, these goals are staggering.
But we have reason to hope as we witness the first joyful returns
of freedom in Afghanistan. Now that the Taliban has lost its grip on
society, women are beginning to resume the lives they once knew -- as
doctors, government employees, teachers, and professionals in many
fields of work.
An Afghan woman named Shura said, "For five years, we could not
recognize each other on the street because of our burqas. Now we can
be together and try to fight."
The women of Afghanistan remind us that freedom is worth fighting
for. It takes courage and perseverance, and sometimes it takes the
strength of numbers, but in every case, and in every country, freedom
is worth fighting for.
Next I will travel to Prague -- my last stop before I join my
husband in Germany. In Prague I will meet with representatives from
NGOs that are a big part of the rebuilding effort in Afghanistan.
I look forward to hearing about their work - and talking about some
of the United States' contributions to the allied effort in
Afghanistan. I also will deliver a radio address to the people of
Afghanistan through Radio Free Afghanistan.
Part of the address will include messages written by the children
of the United States for the children of Afghanistan. They are innocent
words of hope and friendship that American children wish to share with
their peers in Afghanistan during this important time of rebuilding.
And I will speak directly to women.offering words of praise and
encouragement from the people of the United States, and detailing some
U.S. efforts to help women regain their place in the workforce, and in
In my home state of Texas, I had a good friend, an artist, whose
name was Tom Lea. Tom died last year, but his life is immortalized in
both art and words. In his book titled "A Picture Gallery", Tom wrote,
"Sarah (My wife) and I live on the east side of our mountain. It is the
side to see the day that is coming, not the side to see the day that is
gone. The best day is the day coming, with work to do with the eyes
wide open, with the heart grateful."
In Afghanistan, in Hungary and in our hearts, the best day is
coming for women.
Many of us have been inspired by the ideas and stories of strong,
determined women in our history, and in our lives. The roles these
women play are diverse, but perhaps what they all have in common is
their love, their humanity, and their purpose. We can learn a lot from
their example, and just as we can learn a lot from each other today.
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