January 11, 2016
13:00 p.m. at Amani High School

Control Officer:
DOC/USAID – Abdul Aziz Karimi, ext.3581, cell: 0702-626-203
Delivery: Deliver remarks from a podium in front of Promote in three languages banner in high school auditorium
Press: Local and international press have been invited.

It is a great pleasure to be here today to celebrate this milestone of the first Promote graduation under the Women’s Leadership Development Program.

I especially want to share my thanks and appreciation for First Lady Rula Ghani, who is a great advocate for women and friend of Promote. She has been instrumental in moving the program forward with her invaluable ideas and support. You are fortunate to have heard such a positive message in Mrs. Ghani’s words of wisdom.

I first came to Afghanistan in 2008 for two years. Then I returned last fall for two more years as USAID Mission Director. What really heartens me is the amazing examples of resilience and determination I have seen among the Afghan people.

Each of the young women sitting in the audience today is a shining example of that resilience and determination. I look out across the audience and I see future leaders of Afghanistan and it gives me hope.

Let me talk for a moment about Promote, the largest female empowerment program in USAID’s history, anywhere in the world. Promote was designed in close collaboration with the Afghan government, women’s groups, and civil society organizations. It is based on the belief that if you empower the best and brightest young Afghan women, and if you build on the gains these women have already made, a new generation of female leaders will emerge to help lift up the country.

The concept behind Promote is based on what is known as “the multiplier effect.” These young women will go on to share their talents and to influence their families and communities. They will support other women, effectively creating an informal country-wide network that will contribute to peace building, more transparent governance, and long-term stability and prosperity.

Promote is made up of four programs focusing on government, civil society, the economy, and leadership.
You, sitting before me, are Promote pioneers.

You have just completed a rigorous three-month course where you studied the lives of famous Afghan women leaders. You learned about ethics, breaking norms, and how to earn respect. You developed community projects to help the disadvantaged. And most importantly, you learned the leadership skills necessary to move into decision-making positions within the public and private sectors, civil society, politics, education, and health.

What I see before me proves that the last year of hard work has definitely born fruit. These young women are trained, and they possess the savvy and the passion to work towards a stronger, more secure, and more inclusive Afghanistan.

Why has the United States invested so much money in Promote?
Research shows that development and economic growth happen more quickly when equal opportunities for women are part of the design.

If you look around the world, you’ll find that the majority of countries with successful economies, and countries that are at peace, are countries where both men and women are contributing to peace and prosperity. In the next 10 years in Afghanistan – the Transformation Decade – a new generation of Afghan leaders – both men and women – will emerge.

Promote seeks to ensure that all of you are among the next cadre of leaders. What you will do with the skills you have gained is up to you. I’m confident, though, that you will make the best of them. For anyone looking to hire talented young Afghans, you need look no further than this gymnasium.
Please join me in congratulating these future leaders of Afghanistan.