International Women's Day: Laura Bush Pens Salute to Woman Around Globe

Friday, 08 Mar 2013 09:27 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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Former first lady of the United States Laura Bush praised international women for the strides they've made over the last 100 years in the salute to International Women's Day she penned for USA Today Friday.

"When the commemorations began, American women were demanding the right to vote," Bush wrote. "Today, women's roles have been transformed. Women serve as heads of state and Cabinet secretaries, as Supreme Court justices and U.S. senators, as corporate executives and entrepreneurs. I am proud to support many of these women and their work, including Afghanistan, Burma, and Liberia."

Bush applauded the women in Afghanistan who run underground literacy centers behind the backs of the threatening Taliban, the Burmese Nobel laureate and long-time political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi who campaigns to expand women's roles, and the female presidents of Liberia and Malawi.

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"A century of progress has shown us that when you educate and empower women, you improve nearly every other aspect of society," Bush wrote. "As the great Egyptian poet Hafez Ibrahim said, 'When you educate a woman, you create a nation.'"

Bush has long been a champion for empowering women. The Women's Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute is dedicated to improving access to education, health care, and economic opportunities for women and children both domestic and abroad.

The Initiative even provides Bush Institute Fellows, Egyptian women in fields such as education, health, politics, law, business, and media, with prominent American female mentors who teach them how to be effective leaders. One of the fellows is working to establish a cancer treatment center at a children's hospital in Egypt, while others are educating Egyptian children and illiterate women about human rights.

"This year, on International Women's Day, we celebrate the many women around the world who strive for freedom, justice, and equality," Bush wrote. "We applaud their courage and sacrifice and recommit ourselves to addressing the inequities — from healthcare to economics, education, and political representation — that still affect women."

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