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Milestone #4: Continued our commitment to the women of Afghanistan In 2001, when Mrs. Laura Bush delivered her historic radio address calling attention to the plight of women and children suffering under the Taliban, women in Afghanistan were banned from the workforce and prohibited from gaining an education. Today, women represent 26% of all Afghan civil servants, 24%of government-media workers, 21%of private-media workers, and 24% of all Community Development Council members. They also make up 28% of teachers at the primary and secondary level. Many Afghan women are now employed as university professors, doctors, lawyers, judges, and police officers. This progress has been hard-won, but there is more to be done. In March, we convened Afghan President Hamid Karzai, representatives from the United States and Afghan governments, business leaders, entrepreneurs and policymakers for a two-day summit that underscored President and Mrs. Bush’s belief that it is in the interest of the United States to empower women in Afghanistan for the sake of national security and for the sake of peace. Speaking via teleconference, President Hamid Karzai reaffirmed his commitment to promote women’s rights in Afghanistan. “There should be no doubt in our minds that there will not be any changes allowed by the Afghan people that would diminish or reduce the gains that Afghan women have made. We will work towards a brighter future for Afghan women, who have indeed suffered because of the Taliban,” he said. “They bore the brunt of the suffering in Afghanistan, and from peace they should have the maximum gain." The conference, which focused on promoting and advancing Afghan women’s economic opportunity, was moderated by Greta Van Susteren, who also covered the event for her nightly show on Fox News. During an interview with Greta, Mrs. Bush said “Today, we know that economies can't succeed unless all the people can be involved. In countries where half the population, where the women are left out of the economy and can't work, we see countries that are failing and economies that are failing.” Afghanistan must make the critical decision to include and protect the rights of all its citizens, both men and women, or risk the inevitable return to instability and failure by oppressing and excluding women from fully contributing to society. As President Bush said during the conference: “One of the questions we’ve got to ask ourselves as Americans is, “Does it matter? Does it matter if that society returns to brutality?” We at the Bush Center not only believe freedom is universal; we believe every life has dignity. Every person is important, whether it be an American woman or a woman in Afghanistan. So to this end we’re going to do our very best to be enablers and mentors and to encourage and support the women of Afghanistan.”
Hannah Abney directs strategic communications and messaging for the George W. Bush Presidential Center, leading a team responsible for developing and implementing communication strategies that help advance the Bush Center’s work in developing leaders, fostering policy, and taking action to save and change lives.
Prior to joining the Bush Center, she led public relations activities for consumer and non-profit brands at The Richards Group. Abney also led communications efforts at a national retail trade association in Washington, DC, and served in the George W. Bush Administration in the Vice President’s Office.
A native of Milwaukee, WI, she is a graduate of the Southern Methodist University (B.A., Music) and lives in Dallas with her husband and young sons.Full Bio
What’s Happening in Afghanistan?
While there have been tremendous gains in Afghanistan, lack of security threatens these gains daily.
Q&A with Dr. Nilofar Ibrahimi, Member of Parliament, Afghanistan
Dr. Nilofar Ibrahimi is a member of the national assembly of Afghanistan. She represents Badakhshan province in the Wolesi Jirga (house of representatives). Her story is one of survival, pursuit of dreams, and dedication to women’s well-being and health. Here, Dr. Ibrahimi shares her thoughts on the current state of Afghan women’s empowerment, the challenges women face in achieving equal rights, and the impact women have on the country’s long-term peace, security, and prosperity.
In Case You Missed It: The Breadwinner, an animated film about the strength and resilience of Afghan women and girls, premieres in the U.S.
The Breadwinner, a new animated film from executive producer Angelina Jolie, tells the story of Parvana, an 11-year-old girl growing up under the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001. When her father is wrongfully arrested, Parvana disguises herself as a boy in order to support her family. With dauntless perseverance, Parvana draws strength from the stories her father told her, and ultimately risks her life to discover if he is still alive. The Breadwinner is an inspiring reminder of the power of stories, and their potential to unite and heal us all. It also provides an important spotlight on the struggle endured by Afghan families during the Taliban regime and the resilience of women and girls and their influence in building a brighter future for Afghanistan. Last year, the Bush Institute released We Are Afghan Women: Voices of Hope, which spotlights more of these courageous stories of Afghan women. Learn more about the book and our work by visiting:&nb