JavaScript Menu, DHTML Menu Powered By Milonic


Join our e-mail mailing
list and receive our
monthly newsletter free
of charge

News and Views

First Lady Laura Bush Commends Progress in Education and Health at U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council

First Lady Laura Bush focused on the progress that Afghanistan and Afghan women have made in the last six years during a January 18 meeting of the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council at Georgetown University, citing the 25 percent drop in infant mortality, a 95% inoculation against polio and expanded education opportunities for children. The Council promotes private/public partnerships between U.S. and Afghan institutions and mobilizes private resources to benefit Afghan women in 4 crucial areas: education, health care, protecting children and economic empowerment.  The gathering of influential U.S. and Afghan business women and civil society leaders marked Council's 10th meeting, and was the first at Georgetown University. The U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council recently partnered with Georgetown University, which will continue to pursue the Council’s goal of empowering Afghan women through exchanges, training and income generating programs.

The Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky and Ambassador Said Tayeb Jawad moderated the discussion, which encompassed updates on the Women’s Teacher Training Institute, the American University of Afghanistan, the AYENDA Foundation and Arzu Carpets, as well as a broader exploration of health care, economic empowerment, literacy, and legal issues influencing women’s political participation. Zohra Rasekh, Director of the Office of International Women’s Issues at Afghanistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs discussed the Afghan Government’s efforts to implement the Afghan constitution as it relates to gender equality.

In her opening remarks, the First Lady discussed the evolution of the partnership between the United States and Afghanistan. While that partnership exists on a strategic level from government to government, the First Lady explained that a strong connection between the Afghan and American women is evident. “(After September 11th) I really sensed a sisterhood between the women of the United States and the women of Afghanistan,” she said. “Even when I went to the cosmetic counters at a department store, people who sold cosmetics would mention the women of Afghanistan to me. And that's why every one of the people who are around this table are here -- all the women -- because each one of these women were moved to do something to try to help.”

Mrs. Bush outlined the growth of Afghanistan’s education and health sectors, as well as the dramatic improvements in infrastructure construction, banking and agriculture. The U.S.-Afghan Women’s council has funded projects that educate women judges and lawyers about Afghanistan's new constitution, train midwives and teachers, and disburse micro-credit loans, she said. “The Council shows what individual Americans can do to aid our country's humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan. It shows what Afghans can do to invest in their country's future,” said the First Lady. “Our partnership is yielding promising results. Afghan women and men are working to build a stable democratic society.”

Ambassador Jawad thanked the First Lady for her dedication to Afghanistan, calling her an inspiration to millions of Afghan women and children. He talked about the interest of the Americans he has met around the country in the status of Afghan women and girls.  “Education is the foundation of gender equality.  It is through education and economic empowerment that women become aware of their constitutional rights and gain the necessary skills to compete for jobs and political rights,” he said.  

Ambassador Jawad also cautioned that there is much more work that needs to be done. “Security challenges are mounting,” he said. “However, to our citizens, electricity, road, education, food, shelter and health care are greater concerns than terrorism. Women who are hungry, impoverished and fearful are less likely to take advantage of their new economic and political freedoms. In Kabul last week, I saw many beautiful children walking barefoot on the snow and thousands of widows suffering from the bitter cold.” The Ambassador said that Afghanistan and her international partners will work to lift cultural impediments for women, such as forced marriages and domestic violence, through education and economic empowerment.

 Remarks were also made by Mr. Jim Kunder, Acting Deputy Administrator of USAID; Dr. Thomas Stauffer, President of the American University of Afghanistan; Mrs. Shamim Jawad, Founder of the AYENDA Foundation, Mr. Tim McBride, Senior VP of Freddie Mac; Ms. Connie Duckworth, President of Arzu Carpets; Ms. Khaleda Atta, Commercial Attache of the Embassy of Afghanistan; Dr. Peter Saleh, Deputy Director of Global Health Security; Mr. Ashraf Haidari, Political Counselor to the Embassy of Afghanistan; and Ms. Andrea Bottner, Senior Coordinator for Women’s Issues.

For more information about the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council, visit


Home | Contact Us | Sitemap © 2006 Embassy of Afghanistan and GlobeScope Inc. All Rights Reserved.