"The cause of women's rights," says President George W. Bush, "is inseparable from the cause of human rights." Celebrating International Women's Day and Women's History Month at the White House, President Bush took the opportunity to honor "women who work to secure both their liberty and the liberty of others":
"America honors women like Marta Beatriz Roque Cabello of Cuba. An economist and former math professor, Marta Beatriz is now a leader of a movement for a free Cuba. She spent years in Castro's dungeons for her activism -- because she spoke out about the universality of freedom, she has spent time in jail. She was recently released from her prison term because of her poor health. Yet neither her health nor the threat of danger has deterred this good woman, this pioneer for liberty. "
Mr. Bush spoke of the determination and sacrifice of other women human rights activists, including Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma:
"For twelve of the last eighteen years, this extraordinary woman has been kept under house arrest by Burma's brutal military regime. Her only crime was to lead a political party that enjoys the overwhelming support of the Burmese people. During the long and lonely years of Aung San Suu Kyi's imprisonment, the people of Burma have suffered with her. Aung San Suu Kyi has never wavered. Her courage and her writings have inspired millions, and in so doing, have put fear to the hearts of the leaders of the Burmese junta."
President Bush also congratulated the winners of the International Women of Courage Award. Recipients of the second annual State Department award include, Suraya Pakzad of Afghanistan, Begum Jan of Pakistan, Nibal Thawabteh of the Palestinian Authority, Cynthia Bendlin of Paraguay, Valdete Idrizi of Kosovo, Virisila Buadromo of Fiji, and Farhiyo Farah Ibrahim of Somalia.
"Americans are inspired by the examples of these women," said President Bush. "We will continue to support their work, and the work of women across the world who stand up for the freedom of their people."