In his first State of the Union Address Tuesday night, President Bush highlighted gains made in recent months for women in Afghanistan. Pointing out that only a few months ago Afghan women and girls were not allowed to work or go to school, the President claimed that they were were now “free” and part of the new interim government. He recognized Hamid Karzai, the Afghan Interim Government Chairman, and Dr. Sima Samar, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Women’s Affairs, as his special guests at the State of the Union.
Also during his 48-minute speech, President Bush called for “respect for women” as part of “non-negotiable demands of human dignity” and recognized the heroic efforts of two women flight attendants, Hermis Moutadier and Christina Jones, who thwarted an Al Qaeda operative from blowing up an airplane using bombs he had hidden in his shoes.
Bush’s recognition of Chairman Karzai and Dr. Minister Samar capped off a 3-day trip by the Afghan interim government leaders here to discuss the future of Afghanistan. They met yesterday with US AID and U.S. State Department officials who announced the first U.S. funded programs for reconstruction. Dr. Samar also met with leaders of the Feminist Majority during her visit.