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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs > Releases > Public Statements on South and Central Asian Policy > 2004

Remarks at the Screening of Osama

Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao
The First Feature Film Made in Post-Taliban Afghanistan
Washington, DC
February 12, 2004

Prepared for Delivery

I am delighted to be here tonight with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson, Senator Hillary Clinton, Under Secretary of State Paula Dobriansky, the Afghan Ambassador to the United States Said Tayeb Jawad, and all of you for tonight’s event.

The presence of so many women leaders is a testament to how far we have come since the Taliban’s cruel treatment of women created a worldwide outcry.

Thanks to President Bush’s leadership, that regime is gone and Afghan women and girls can go to school, go to work and build better lives for themselves and their families.

The project Senator Clinton mentioned is part of $6 million in grants that the Labor Department has given to help women and children in Afghanistan. The Department was pleased to assist First Lady Laura Bush in this efforts and her efforts to help the Afghan war widows. Vital Voices also played a crucial role in implementing that project.

This film tonight also has special poignancy for me because I have just returned from Iraq, where I visited the Women’s Rights and Democracy Center in Hilla. It is one of 17 Centers this Administration is setting up throughout Iraq to help Iraqi women achieve greater self-sufficiency and independence by providing classes in health, business skills and democracy education.

It was so inspiring to meet these courageous women! Hilla is a town on the edge of Babylon. 60% of the population is comprised of women because Saddam Hussein killed many of the men over 40. These women are hungry for democracy and they want to participate fully in all aspects of their government and their country.

I am honored to add my voice to theirs. Tonight, we remember not only the women of Hilla but the women of all of Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East and their passionate aspirations for full participation in their countries.

The President and First Lady recommended this film to the Cabinet, and I am looking forward to joining you in watching it.

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