The White House
March 12, 2004
International Women's Week 2004
President Bush's policies reflect the value that freedom is the right of every person, and the future of every nation. In the past two and a half years, 50 million men, women, and children have been liberated from two of the most brutal regimes on earth, and 25 million women and girls are now free to go to school, vote in elections, and play an active role in their societies. The United States continues to work to advance and support the dignity of all people, because the best guarantors of the rights of women are freedom and democracy.
The President has proposed $15 billion over five years to combat HIV/AIDS abroad, which increasingly affects women.
In 2002, President Bush initiated a $500 million International Mother and Child HIV Prevention Initiative.
The Millennium Challenge Account will provide $5 billion to countries that govern justly, invest in their people and promote economic growth, with a particular emphasis on the treatment of women and children.
President Bush has proposed over $150 million over two years to combat worldwide trafficking in persons, predominantly women and children forced into sexual slavery.
To date, the President's Middle East Partnership Initiative has committed $129 million to programs supporting economic, political, and educational reform efforts in the Middle East and champion opportunity for all people of the region, especially women and youth.
$9 million has been spent to support African women refugees.
As the Iraqi people reclaim freedom, the United States is supporting them. The systematic use of rape by Saddam Hussein's regime to dishonor families has ended, and Iraqis of all ethnic and religious groups are participating in rebuilding their country.
In November, President Bush met with Iraqi leaders in the Oval Office to discuss women's roles in Iraq's future.
Three women on the Iraqi Governing Council were instrumental in drafting the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL).
The TAL makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender, ethnicity, or religion; and guarantees all Iraqis the right to vote.
This week, the Administration announced two new programs for Iraqi women -- the $10 million Iraqi Women's Democracy Initiative and the U.S. -Iraq Women's Network.
The United States supported the travel of Iraqi women to the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York, March 1-12, 2004.
Six Iraqi women are participating in the Fulbright Program, which was restored in Iraq in January.
The United States is rehabilitating and equipping 11 regional women's centers in Iraq. We are renovating and equipping 9 women's centers in Baghdad; the first opened on March 8, 2004.
Afghan women are preparing to vote in free elections, having participated in the drafting of a new constitution and taking on key responsibilities in liberated Afghanistan. Under the ruthless grip of the Taliban regime, Afghan girls were barred from getting an education, women were banned from holding jobs, and women were publicly whipped when they did not follow the Taliban's rules. Afghan women are now being integrated into the economic, social and political lives of their liberated country.
Female doctors are back at work, as are other professional women. All are contributing to modernize their country's medical system. Under the Taliban, male doctors were prohibited from treating women.
The U.S.-Afghan Women's Council provides education exchange programs between Afghan ministries and U.S. agencies, academic exchanges, and professional enrichment opportunities.
The United States rehabilitated the Ministry of Women's Affairs building and created the first women's resource center for job training.
Afghanistan's new constitution affords equal rights to all Afghan citizens, including the right for women to vote in elections scheduled for later this year.
The United States is providing $2.5 million to build 14 women's centers, and each location will have audiovisual equipment, computers, libraries, and a daycare center. Centers are providing vocational training for women. Reclaiming their human dignity is important to Afghanistan's women, and with U.S. Government funding, war widows are revitalizing handicraft industries. One effort encourages carpet vendors to employ women who graduate from training courses. War widows are employed in bakeries that provided bread to about 250,000 urban poor in 2002. The Afghan constitution provided rights to women and the loya jirga had a substantial representation of women.
TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS
President Bush is advancing the fight against trafficking in persons, which is a modern day form of slavery. Each year approximately 800,000 to 900,000 people, primarily women and children, are trafficked around the world, including thousands into the United States.
In his speech to the United Nations General Assembly last September, President Bush said: "[H]uman beings are bought, sold or forced across the world's borders. Among them are hundreds of thousands of teenage girls, and others as young as five, who fall victim to the sex trade. This commerce in human life generates billions of dollars each year -- much of which is used to finance organized crime."
To combat sex trafficking, the President announced an initiative of an additional $50 million to support the good work of organizations that are rescuing women and children from exploitation.
The United States Department of State publishes an annual report on trafficking in persons and based on the findings, works with countries to help them combat trafficking in persons.
The Justice Department is aggressively investigating and prosecuting human trafficking. In FY 2001 to FY 2003, the Justice Department opened 210 new investigations, which is more than double the number opened in the previous three final years. In FY 2001 to FY 2003, the department prosecuted 110 traffickers, which is nearly a three-fold increase compared to the previous fiscal years.