The National Democratic Institute (NDI), joined by Senator Barbara Mikulski, honored the Worker Women Social Organization (WWSO) of Kandahar, Afghanistan, at its annual Madeline Albright Luncheon on May 12.
Senator Mikulski, introduced by Secretary Albright, began by stating that “we must lift up our own country.” She said she is working to create a “zone of civility” in the U.S. Senate to reduce partisan animosities.
Senator Mikulski told the large crowd that her mission extends beyond her political priorities for America to include empowering women and girls worldwide. “Change is in the air,” she said, and the message to Afghanistan should be: “we haven’t forgotten you.”
“Democracy is not in decline,” she said. We should celebrate the progress women are making in Afghanistan in pushing women’s participation in politics and continue demanding the right to vote. “More books, less bombs” should be the motto.
The wife of Afghanistan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, Rula Ghani, also spoke. Her message was that women are strong in Afghanistan, and there are increasing numbers of in women in politics. Women are tackling sensitive issues, questioning, for example, the credentials of the clergy and fighting for the rule of law, the creation of small businesses, and better living conditions.
Khalida Noori the director of WWSO, accepted the award for her organization. She said that WWSO helps women and youth address critical social needs such as education, health care, civil rights and legal literacy.
WWSO will use the Madeleine Albright award to conduct seminars for a core group of young women on democratic leadership and political participation and to facilitate their entry into the job market.
Elizabeth Clark, Chair
International Affairs Task Force