First Lady: Hope for Iraqi Women

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First lady Laura Bush said Tuesday that human rights in Iraq stand a better chance because women hold nearly one-third of the seats in the interim assembly that will oversee drafting a constitution.

"We're hopeful that the document they design will firmly establish the principles of representative and transparent government, democracy and universal human rights," Mrs. Bush said in a speech on International Women's Day (search).

Mrs. Bush said her husband's democracy program was part of a larger effort to support women across the Middle East and North Africa, from girls' literacy programs in Yemen to training for women in business in Jordan to legal workshops in Bahrain.

Introducing the first lady to a conference at the State Department for women leaders, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (search) said, "We are hoping to create opportunities for all Muslim women to participate fully in the lives of their nations."

Rice cited elections in Afghanistan and Iraq and among Palestinians as advances in women's rights.