DeGioia presents award to Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush for contributions to US-Afghan Women’s Council
“There is an Afghan proverb: A good year is determined by its spring. I think that is a worthy proverb to keep in mind, and indeed it is a call to action for us to be sure that the spring sets the pace for the kind of good year we hope to see in Afghanistan,” said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in her opening remarks at a State Department event celebrating the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council.
At the event, University President John J. DeGioia presented an award to Clinton and former First Lady Laura Bush for their contributions to the Council. Also in attendance were Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul and Afghan ambassador to the U.S. Eklil Hakimi.
DeGioia co-chairs the Council with Melanne Verveer, a Georgetown graduate and Ambassador-At-Large for Global Women’s Issues. Originally founded by former President George W. Bush and Afghan President Hamid Karzai in 2002, the Council is dedicated to improving the standard of life for Afghan women and children by reaching out to non-governmental organizations as well as academics and the private sector. Both Sec. Clinton and Mrs. Bush thanked DeGioia yesterday for “providing a home for the Council since 2008.”
Foreign Minister Rassoul catalogued the dramatic improvements in the life of women and children in Afghanistan over the past ten years. According to Rassoul, women made up 40 percent of voters in the 2004 elections. He also mentioned the emergence of “female pilots, army and police officers, and professional martial artists.” DeGioia chuckled.
“These numbers and percent that I just referenced by the example were all a big zero in 2001 and there were no legal guarantees for women rights in Afghanistan,” Rassoul said. He thanked the Council and all members in attendance for their hard work.
DeGioia honored Clinton with the Caring for Children Lifetime Achievement Award from the Center for Child and Human Development. He presented Bush with the Champion for Afghan Women award. Despite the former first lady and current Secretary of State’s difference in politics, both Bush and Clinton are united in their effort to support women’s rights in Afghanistan. Clinton described herself and Bush as part of a “very small group” committed to reaching beyond our borders during an extremely difficult time in our nation’s history, namely the attacks of Sep. 11.
“Ever since 9/11, the spotlight of the world turned on Afghanistan,” Bush said. “I could actually do something.” And she did, by spreading awareness of the plight of women in Afghanistan and joining the Women’s Council in 2005.
Clinton emphasized America’s unwavering support of equality in Afghanistan. “Any peace that is attempted to be made by excluding more than half the population is no peace at all. It is a figment that will not last,” she said. “So let there be no doubt that even as the U.S. role in Afghanistan changes during the next few years of transition, we will continue to stand with and work closely with Afghan women.”
Photo courtesy of Phil Humnicky