Some people are not happy to see former First Lady Laura Bush receive the Alice Paul Award from the Sewall-Belmont House. The annual award given by the headquarters for the National Women’s Party is named for the acclaimed suffragette who picketed the White House and was jailed for her tireless effort to win women the right to vote in 1920.
A protest letter signed by 20 women protesting the selection states:
Laura Bush is not known as a champion of women’s rights. She has done little or nothing to advance American women’s equality … Her advocacy on behalf of Afghan women is commendable, but she has been conspicuously absent in every major arena of American women’s rights … To give it to a non-feminist Republican figurehead, at a time when the Republican Party is doing its utmost to demolish women’s hard-fought rights, reflects a stunning lapse of judgment.
Wow. Where to begin? How about the notion that the Republican Party is trying to rescind the rights our foremothers demanded and won for us? We can vote, work, marry, not marry, plan our families, be breadwinners, raise our kids … the list is exhaustive. Which one of these rights, exactly, is the GOP trying to take away? None. The answer is none.
Speaking of women’s rights, you know who does not enjoy the freedoms we American dames have? Afghan women. As the letter mentions, Laura Bush has done commendable work advocating for girls and women in Afghanistan, but it glosses over it.
After the United States went after the Taliban in Afghanistan, the world was made aware of the horrible subjugation suffered by Afghan women. They were not allowed to leave their homes without escorts, educating girls was illegal, and mutilations were common. Laura Bush helped change the culture in that oppressive country, where girls now go to school and women now work “as entrepreneurs, educators, lawyers and community health workers.”
That is a win for the international sisterhood, girlfriends.
Domestically, she has been a champion for childhood literacy, because when you can read, you don’t have to depend on others for information dissemination. Knowledge is power, and the best way to gain it is to read all that you can.
One last thing: The protest letter states that Laura Bush has done virtually nothing when it comes to advocating for American women. I think a few feminists should read up on the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health, a research facility dedicated to discovering how diseases and illnesses affect male and female bodies differently. If that’s not looking out for women’s health, I don’t know what is.
Laura Bush absolutely deserves this award for her tremendous commitment nationally and worldwide in seeing all women rise to their full potential.
Image via Bush Library/Flickr