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Laura Bush On Afghan Women

U.S. First Lady Laura Bush says America supports the aspirations of Afghan women and girls:

"The United States government is wholeheartedly committed to the full participation of women in all aspects of Afghan society."

A former schoolteacher, Mrs. Bush says that the U.S. will provide more than twenty-million dollars to aid Afghan education. Mrs. Bush says Afghanistan is "only a few years removed from the rule of the terrorists, when women were denied education and every basic human right":

"I've especially watched with great pride as courageous women across your country have taken on leadership roles as students, teachers, judges, doctors, business and community leaders, ministers, and governor."

Mrs. Bush met with Afghan women, including students and teachers. Treena Abdul Momen, a village teacher, told Mrs. Bush that "being illiterate is like being blind." The United Nations estimates that only fourteen percent of Afghan women can read and write.

Afghan president Hamid Karzai said the First Lady's visit was an important gesture of U.S. support for reform. "This matters much more than hundreds of millions of dollars," said Mr. Karzai.

With U.S. assistance, Afghanistan has begun special programs to help Afghans deprived of an education by the Taleban. The Afghan Literacy Initiative teaches reading, math, and life skills to girls in remote communities, and is expected to have over two-thousand students by the end of the year. Learning for Life is expected to reach more than eight-thousand women across thirteen Afghan provinces during the next two years. The program is intended to certify some five-thousand-five-hundred young Afghan women to be trained as health care workers and midwives.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said, "the people of Afghanistan have shown their commitment to moving forward [to] a free and democratic future."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.