"The U.S.-Afghan Women's Council remains a symbol of hope and strength"

Igor Khrestin delivers remarks on behalf of the Bush Institute and Mrs. Laura Bush at the U.S.-Afghan Women's Council annual meeting.

For more than two decades, the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council has made a vital difference in the lives of Afghan women and children. As Afghans once again face brutal human rights violations under the Taliban’s corrupt rule, the Council’s tremendous work is more important than ever. This week, Igor Khrestin, the Bradford M. Freeman Managing Director of Global Policy at the Bush Institute, delivered the following remarks on behalf of the Bush Institute and Mrs. Laura Bush at the Council’s annual meeting.

When President Bush and Hamid Karzai announced the US-Afghan Women’s Council in 2002, we believed in a brighter and more peaceful future for Afghanistan. Two decades brought great progress, but the Taliban has yet again unleashed horror on the Afghan people. The repression, poverty, and brutality endured by communities across Afghanistan – especially women and children – are haunting.

Amidst unimaginable devastation and darkness, the US-Afghan Women’s Council remains a symbol of hope and strength. Your unwavering support for Afghanistan shows the rest of the world that they are not alone. We are grateful for your partnerships, and for your commitment to fighting for the rights and dignity of women and girls in Afghanistan.

Right now, the Council’s focus on education, health, economic opportunity, and leadership development is more important than ever. Education remains a priority and a force for the advancement of peace, prosperity, and progress for all, including the women and girls who are being denied their rights and opportunities.

We are proud of the Council’s work this year to mobilize the University Network for Afghan women, supporting both Afghan women who have been displaced, as well as those who remain in country. And we thank the other USAWC organizations that are educating women and girls securely and successfully.  As Afghan education advocate and founder of LEARN Afghanistan Pashtana Durrani said at the Bush Institute’s Forum on Leadership this April: “Support, share, and uplift organizations that are working on educating girls in Afghanistan. That is the first issue that anyone should be tackling from a security point of view, [and] from a human rights point of view.”

Through our work at the Bush Institute, we remain committed to supporting the good work of this Council. We will always stand with you and the courageous and resilient advocates who work in the pursuit of freedom, peace and stability for all Afghan people.