On the international side of things here at IWF we have for quite some time been working on issues related to the rights of women in Iraq and in Afghanistan.

Last night on the Fox News Channel, on Hannity & Colmes to be exact, these women and their rights crept slowly and quietly into the 2008 presidential campaign dialog.

During a joint interview with Fred Thompson and Jeri Thompson, she offered these words:

“The one thing that I might express if I have the opportunity and since you are allowing me to do that, is that it does seem surprising to me that there isn’t more coverage of women’s rights in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Iran.”

I would agree it is a topic that has faded into the background a bit. Social and political barriers facing women in Iraq remain today and in many ways are exacerbated by the ongoing conflict surrounding them. Traditional ideas about the role of women in society predominate. An ongoing struggle remains as religious extremists attempt to curtail women’s roles and rights in society.

And in Afghanistan even with the legal barriers removed requiring women to wear the Burqa and with young girls attending school, challenges remain. The Taliban and its supporters have focused on the destruction of schools in an effort to deter attendance and push girls back into their homes. Some girls’ schools in more dangerous provinces have even gone back underground. But what I would add is that women in Afghanistan are far from being victims. They are a vibrant, reticent group. And while they may still navigate their society with an abundance of caution under the cover of their blue burqas, they are out on the streets, they are working, they are making money and they are striving to improve their lives and the lives of their families. Is this strive to improve their lives the picture of progress we may have envisioned as westerners (particularly western women), where women throw off their burqas, embrace jeans and t-shirts on the streets and defy anyone to get in their way, no…but it is a start. As I have said on this blog before, change will come slowly.

Click here to reach the video link to the second portion of a three part interview posted on foxnews.com and hear these comments first hand or click here for the transcript.

*As a note, I inserted the text marked  (inaudible) on the transcript because essentailly, it’s easier to transcribe a few sentences than an entire interview 🙂