First Lady Laura Bush's Remarks at the Launch of "Making It Our Business: Breast Cancer Awareness" ProgramReleased by the White House, Office of the First Lady
Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
October 22, 2007
5:00 P.M. (Local)
MRS. BUSH: Thank you, Your Highness. Thank you all very much, and thank you, Your Highness, for your kind introduction. And thank you for standing with Emirati women and for your important humanitarian work that you do throughout this country.
Thank you for the warm welcome to your beautiful Dubai. I'd like to thank the Chairman of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce. Thank you very, very much for letting us be here and for your kind words when you started. Hala Moddelmog, the CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure; our Ambassador, Ambassador Michele Sison, Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates.
Business executives, philanthropists, government officials, community leaders, distinguished guests -- I'm delighted to be in Dubai today to talk about how we can work together to save women's lives -- by raising women's awareness of breast cancer.
Over the next quarter-century, an estimated 25 million women around the world will be diagnosed with breast cancer, which is why people from every country must share their knowledge, resources and experience to protect women from this disease.
Americans have a national experience with breast cancer advocacy and awareness. Twenty-five years ago in the United States, women didn't talk about breast cancer. They were too embarrassed and fearful. Because everyone kept breast cancer a secret, women weren't aware of what they could do to protect their own health. They didn't get regular mammograms or do breast self-exams. The majority of breast cancer cases were diagnosed in advanced stages of 3 or 4. By then, it's usually too late to treat breast cancer successfully.
But a lot has changed in 25 years. Today, people do talk about breast cancer -- often, to tell stories of triumph. In 1982, my friend Nancy Brinker started the Susan G. Komen Foundation in honor of her sister Susan, who had died of breast cancer. Because of the Komen Foundation's work to raise women's awareness, everyone in the United States now knows what the pink ribbon stands for. Every year, in 114 cities around the world, more than a million runners join Races for the Cure.
And let me just say, two former First Ladies of the United States -- Betty Ford, wife of President Gerald Ford, and Nancy Reagan, wife of President Ronald Reagan -- both made their bouts with breast cancer public. And when they did that, it gave American women the right and the courage to speak out about their own breast cancer. That helped, along with the Susan Komen Foundation, to get breast cancer and breast cancer advocacy at the forefront of American life.
Today in the United States, when breast cancer is caught early, the five-year survival rate is 98 percent. Women in the United States are taking charge of their own health -- women like my mother, Jenna Welch. My mother is one of millions of women who've discovered that a cancer diagnosis does not have to be a death sentence. Like many women who survive cancer, my mother finds new reasons each day to celebrate life.
As in the United States, people in the Middle East --people like you -- are speaking up to save women's lives from this disease. The American people are proud to stand with you.
Last year, I helped launch the U.S.-Middle East Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research. This program joins medical and community organizations from the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Jordan with the medical expertise of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. This partnership will benefit from the education resources of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and the strong commitment of the United States State Department.
Through the partnership, these institutions will initiate awareness campaigns and -- and this is very important -- share discoveries and data that can lead to world-class research -- helping women in the Middle East and in the United States get better treatment for breast cancer.
This is the first partnership for breast cancer awareness and research between the U.S. and the Middle East. Here in the Emirates, hundreds of women attended the launch of the partnership in this country last October. One of the partnership's first programs was a Workplace Awareness and Corporate Responsibility pilot program, started here in Dubai.
Working with Komen for the Cure, Citibank UAE launched a major campaign to educate female employees about the basics of breast health. In March, Citibank's Al Wasl Branch Komen educators provided 12 of Citibank's female employees with breast cancer statistics. The Komen employees taught the Citibank women about the biology of breast cancer, and the importance of cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment. After the workshop, these 12 women took their knowledge back to each of the Citibank branches.
The U.S.-Middle East Partnership workplace pilot program has shown a lot of progress. It's shown us that workplaces and business centers are good places to reach women with messages of breast cancer awareness. And this program shows the social consciousness of the city that created it.
Dubai is the economic powerhouse of the Middle East --and as your city has flourished, Dubai's leaders and businesses have worked hard to make sure that prosperity extends throughout Emirati society. Now a global city, Dubai is acting as a good global citizen: Through the Dubai Cares initiative, for example, the private sector has raised $270 million to provide primary school education for children in poor nations.
Dubai is also making huge investments in the Emiratis' future -- and as a leading capital of commerce, the people of Dubai know that the country's future depends upon its women. Investing in women -- in their education, and in their health -- is good business. Healthy women are more productive at work. Male employees can focus better on their work if their wives and families are healthy at home. Customers appreciate companies' concern for public health. Every October in the United States, major companies partner with Susan G. Komen to sell "pink products." People buy extras of everything from our favorite candies to kitchen appliances -- because we know that some of the proceeds will fund breast cancer education and research.
Today, 11 companies in Dubai are distinguishing themselves as concerned corporate citizens. These 11 companies -- both Emirati and American -- are signing on as charter members of the "Making it Our Business: Breast Cancer Awareness" program. These 11 companies will extend the Citibank Pilot Program that was launched last year.
Through "Making it Our Business," these companies will educate employees, their families and customers about breast cancer. And with help from workshops on cause-related marketing, "Making it Our Business" will help these 11 Charter Companies discover how being compassionate and being profitable go hand in hand.
Now I'd like for all the people here who are from these 11 companies to raise their hands so we can applaud you. (Applause.) Congratulations to the people of Dubai. In a thriving business city, corporations have a special obligation to set an example of good citizenship. And, as one of the executives here today says: "We want to help break the silence, and change perceptions. A company's culture can help change a country's culture." By making breast cancer awareness your business, Dubai's corporate community will set a good example of social consciousness throughout the Middle East.
Thank you all very much for saving women's lives. (Applause.)
END 5:09 P.M. (Local)
Released on October 22, 2007