NOW Protests Award to Laura Bush
Ashley Blackwell |
Feminists Blind to Conservative Women's Accomplishments
In September of this year, Former First Lady Laura Bush will receive the “Alice Paul Award” from the Sewall-Belmont House, a museum dedicated to advancing women. Mere hours after the announcement of the decision, twenty-two women began to protest the selection of Bush’s award.
The leader of this petty pack of protestors is Sonia Pressman Fuentes (pictured bottom right), co-founder of the National Organization of Women (NOW), an organization that claims to support all women while never managing to find a conservative woman whose accomplishments it considers worth celebrating. Certainly not in the case of Laura Bush, who doesn’t fit NOW’s ideal feministic mold. Regarding her statement on why Mrs. Bush should not receive this award, Fuentes says, “... I’m complaining that she’s never done anything for women to get this award.”
Really Ms. Fuentes? Mrs. Bush has not done anything for women? Let me give you a few examples of her hard work to advance women around the world.
As First Lady, she traveled extensively throughout the Middle East to talk about breast cancer awareness and the important need for early screening. It wasn’t a particularly easy task, since efforts to have this discussion are discouraged by the culture. Her mother is a breast cancer survivor, so Mrs. Bush’s passion for breast cancer awareness runs deep.
Long before becoming America’s First Lady, she was a regular volunteer for the Susan B. Komen Foundation, a national organization dedicated to breast cancer awareness; and as First Lady, she gave the issue national spotlight. During her tenure, she was also an ambassador for The Heart Truth, an organization that raises awareness for the need for detection and prevention of heart disease—in women.
A teacher and librarian by profession, Laura Bush has been a tireless champion for increasing literacy particularly for women in this nation and abroad. She saw the personal and economic pain of women who cannot read and write. As First Lady of Texas, she implemented four literacy initiatives for families, and she established the Texas Book Festival to raise funds for public libraries.
As First Lady of the U.S., she took her passion for literacy national and global. Working with the Library of Congress, she launched the annual National Book Festival to promote reading and education. She was honored by the United Nations as an ambassador for its Decade of Literacy program. She devoted much time to helping women in Afghanistan who are victims of oppression and brutal treatment under the Taliban, bringing attention to the extreme conditions that these women face every single day.
In 2002 President Bush and then President Karazi established the U.S.—Afghan women’s council. The goal of this organization is to ensure that Afghan women have opportunities to gain the skills and education that are deprived under the Taliban. In 2001, less than a million Afghan children attended school, the majority of them boys. Now six million Afghan children are enrolled in school, and a third of them are girls. That is certainly worth celebrating.
It is also significant to note that Laura Bush has been married to her husband for 35 years—quite an accomplishment in an age when one out of every two marriages is failing. That Mrs. Bush could maintain her relationship with her husband and their two daughters through good and bad times is a noteworthy achievement. It is important to celebrate women who have been successful in long-term marriages despite the pressure and stress of being in the national spotlight.
Now, how has she never done anything for women? Mrs. Bush has a natural drive to help other women, and she has pursued her causes tirelessly. NOW has applauded previous recipients of this award, which include Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and Katie Couric. If NOW were honest, it would be applauding Laura Bush as well.
Regardless of what the feminist say, she deserves to win this award and the Sewall-Belmont House made the right decision choosing Mrs. Bush.
Ashley Blackwell is a junior at Azusa Pacific University and an intern at the Luce Institute.