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Celebrating the Spirit of Afghan Women and Girls

Vital Voices

Vital Voices Honorary Co-Chairs, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), joined forces with United Artists and the Motion Picture Association of America to host a special screening of the award-winning film, "Osama." The evening also served as the official launch of the Afghan and Iraqi Women's Leadership Fund at the Vital Voices Global Leadership Institute.

Osama" tells the tale of a young Afghan girl who is disguised as a boy in order to provide physical security for her widowed mother and grandmother (who are forbidden to leave home unaccompanied by a male relative) as her mother attempts to support the family. The film takes place during the Taliban regime, when Afghan women and girls were denied access to the most basic of rights and freedoms, including education and security.

At a reception prior to the screening, special guests U.S. Secretary of Labor, Elaine L. Chao, Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs, Paula J. Dobriansky and Afghan Ambassador to the United States, Said Tayeb Jawad joined in a celebration of the spirit and achievements of Afghan women. They also spoke about the importance of remaining vigilant in protecting the rights of Afghan women and girls.

Senator Clinton noted that "not unlike South Africa, Afghanistan and particularly Afghani women are following a very different trail now - that of forgiveness and reconciliation. It is important that we are here tonight to honor their experiences and never forget humiliations they experienced before their new Afghanistan was born."

MGM Vice Chairman and COO, Chris McGurk, announced a gift from United Artists (an MGM company) of $10,000 to the Afghan and Iraqi Women's Leadership Fund, which will provide important training for women in Afghanistan, Iraq and throughout the region to become full participants in the economic, social and democratic progress of their countries.

Farida Azizi, Vital Voices Senior Advisor for Afghanistan and the Middle East, reminded the evening's nearly 100 guests that although there has been progress in Afghanistan, there remains a long way to go in the reconstruction process. "My wish for Afghanistan is that children grow up with hope and girls are proud to be female… educating and training the next generation is the most important work to be done."

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