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Remarks by President John J. DeGioia

10th Anniversary of the U.S.-Afghan Women's Council

U.S. Department of State
March 21, 2012

Thank you, Ambassador Verveer.  It has been an honor to be here today as we celebrate the tenth anniversary of the U.S. – Afghan Women’s Council and the enduring contribution of two extraordinary leaders, Secretary of State, Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Honorary Advisor of the Council, Mrs. Laura Bush.  We are inspired by the depth of your commitment to the empowerment and success of women and children in Afghanistan and around the world.

We are grateful for the actions you have taken – both during your time in the White House as our First Ladies, and in your current work - to ensure significant progress and ever-expanding impact.

I also wish to thank our partners at the U.S. State Department for their continued commitment and collaboration, as well as Abbot Laboratories and Goldman Sachs for their dedicated efforts to enable our work.

Georgetown University has been deeply engaged in the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council from the time of its founding, participating in the critical work of partnering with the U.S. and Afghan governments, the private sector, and NGOs to develop and implement initiatives in support of Afghan women and children.

Since 2008, we have had the privilege of giving the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council a home at Georgetown University’s Center for Child and Human Development, under the leadership of Dr. Phyllis Magrab.

As we mark the 10-year anniversary of the Council, we will continue to expand on this decade of dedicated work, deepening our commitment to creating broader opportunities for Afghan women and children.  The Council will have a special role to play in the areas of humanitarian support and local capacity building, especially during this period of transition.

At Georgetown, we look forward to drawing on the diverse resources of our community to ensure the continued growth and success of the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council, especially in these critical areas.

We also had the opportunity in December to host Secretary Clinton as she announced the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security at Georgetown University, and to discuss our efforts to establish an initiative for Women, Peace, Security and Development within our School of Foreign Service, under the direction of Dean Carol Lancaster.

Now, it is my pleasure to invite Dr. Phyllis Magrab, Vice Chair of the US Afghan Women’s Council and Director of the Center for Child and Human Development, to join me in presenting the Caring for Children Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Caring for Children Award is given by Georgetown University through its Center for Child and Human Development to honor an individual who has made a distinguished contribution to improving the quality of life for vulnerable children and their families. Today, it is our pleasure to honor Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton for her deep and enduring commitment to this end.

Secretary Clinton has been making significant contributions through her work for decades, beginning with her important scholarly article in the 1973 edition of the Harvard Education Review on children and the law.  Since that time, she has been dedicated to creating policies and programs to benefit the most vulnerable children and families.

Her accomplishments have been wide-ranging, but for a special reason, I wish to highlight the Arkansas' Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youth (HIPPY) that she championed when she was First Lady of Arkansas.  This program sent teachers into the homes of underserved families to train parents in school preparedness and literacy. Through the program, parents learned the importance of talking to, and reading to their children.

In highlighting this work and recognizing Secretary Clinton’s commitment to the mothers and children of Afghanistan, the US Afghan Women’s Council has just launched the Mothers as First Teachers Initiative, originated and led by Council Member, Dr. Jill Iscol, supported by a group of generous donors, and implemented by the early learning team at Georgetown’s Center for Child and Human Development.

The initiative will develop materials to support mothers as the first teachers of their children, which will be used in the Women’s Resource Centers and Women’s Gardens of Afghanistan.

It is in this context that, with great pleasure, we invite this extraordinary advocate for children and families, an ever more dedicated friend of women and children across the globe, Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, to accept this award.

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