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Former First Lady Laura Bush Honored for Work on Behalf of Afghan Women

November 15, 2016

Dallas, Texas— On November 14, IRI presented former First Lady Laura Bush with the Women’s Democracy Network’s (WDN) “10 for 10” award, in recognition of her work on behalf of the rights of Afghan women. IRI Executive Vice President Judy Van Rest presented Mrs. Bush with the award at an event entitled “Voices of Peace: A Conversation with Women Peacebuilders in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

Mrs. Bush has worked to empower Afghan women for more than 15 years, beginning during her time as First Lady. This week marks the 15th anniversary of her historic President’s weekly radio address – a first for a First Lady – which directed international attention to the Taliban’s oppression of women. As First Lady, she made three trips to Afghanistan, and for more than a decade she has led efforts through the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council to protect the hard-earned rights of women in that country. She wrote the forward for the George W. Bush Institute’s latest book, We Are Afghan Women: Voices of Hope, published earlier this year.

Mrs. Bush currently serves as the Chair for the Bush Institute’s Women’s Initiative, guiding the Institute’s programs to advance economic opportunity, health, and education for women and girls.  Women’s Initiative programs develop women leaders in the Middle East and North Africa, raise awareness of Afghan women’s progress and plight, and convene first ladies from around the world, government officials, and private sector leaders to invest in women.

“It’s an honor to present this award to Mrs. Bush, who has worked tirelessly on behalf of Afghan women as they have struggled to free themselves from oppression,” said Judy Van Rest. “We are grateful to her and the Bush Institute for their efforts to empower women in Afghanistan and beyond.”

The award presentation followed a discussion between women peace activists from Afghanistan and Pakistan on the integral role women play in peace and security initiatives. Sameena Imtiaz, Founder and Executive Director of the Peace Education and Development Foundation in Pakistan, and Mariam Safi, Founding Director of the Organization for Policy Research and Development Studies in Afghanistan, shared their personal experiences and stressed the importance of cross-border cooperation in the peacebuilding process.

About the George W. Bush Institute

Housed within the George W. Bush Presidential Center, the George W. Bush Institute is an action-oriented, nonpartisan policy organization with the mission of cultivating leaders, advancing policy, and taking action to solve today’s most pressing challenges. The work is achieved through three Impact Centers – Domestic Excellence, Global Leadership, and an Engagement Agenda – through which the Bush Institute engages the greater community with its important work. The Bush Institute’s Women’s Initiative seeks to empower women worldwide to lead in their communities and countries.

About the Women’s Democracy Network

Recognizing that a full and robust democracy depends on the equal participation of women, the International Republican Institute launched WDN in 2006 to help more women participate in the political life of their countries. Ten years later, WDN is active in 86 countries in every region of the world, and has 16 Country Chapters. WDN members have served in a range of leadership positions, including as parliamentarians, deputy prime ministers, vice president, cabinet ministers and ambassadors.

WDN launched the “10 for 10” campaign to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the Network, founded in 2006 to increase women’s political and civic leadership globally. The “10 for 10” campaign recognizes 10 remarkable women who have demonstrated determination, passion, and a commitment to building a better world. Previous recipients include Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.