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11/9/03 - BUSH ON RIGHTS FOR WOMEN - 2003-11-10

In many Muslim countries in the Middle East, and elsewhere, women are denied basic human rights, including a decent education. In some cases, as in Afghanistan, says President George W. Bush, women suffered through “an ideology of theocratic terror”:

“Ruling cabals like the Taleban show their version of religious piety in public whippings of women, ruthless suppression of any difference or dissent, and support for terrorists who arm and train to murder the innocent.”

In Afghanistan, the Taleban regime has now been overthrown and women have the opportunity to become an important part of Afghan society. They are working in professions such as teaching and medicine, and flocking to literacy classes and other training programs.

In December in Kabul, five-hundred delegates will convene a Constitutional Loya Jirga, a national assembly, to approve a new Afghan constitution. Nearly twenty percent of the delegates are expected to be women. The proposed draft calls for protecting the rights of all citizens -- both men and women. The draft guarantees seats for women in both houses of the bicameral parliament, and guarantees their right to vote and to run for office. Successful societies are ones that recognize the rights of women. Afghanistan is now well on the road toward improving the status of women. In addition, some countries, like Morocco, says President Bush, are beginning to see the need for change and are taking positive steps:

“Morocco has a diverse new parliament. King Mohammed has urged it to extend the rights to women. Here is how His Majesty explained his reforms to parliament: “How can society achieve progress while women, who represent half the nation, see their rights violated and suffer as a result of injustice, violence, and marginalization?’“

As President Bush puts it, “The future of Muslim nations will be better for all with the full participation of women.”