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Oklahoma State Senate
Communications Division
State Capitol
Oklahoma City, OK 73105

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                              For Immediate Release: September 6, 2007                            

Sen. Kathleen Wilcoxson
Sen. Kathleen Wilcoxson on Thursday hosted a group of Afghani business women at the state Capitol, and explained how business is conducted in the Senate Chamber.

Afghan Business Women Impressed with Oklahoma Visit, Capitol Tour

State Sen. Kathleen Wilcoxson stood at her desk in the Senate Chamber and explained how the members debated and voted on bills. She laughed that some of her fellow Senators had given her a wooden “soap box” to stand on so she could be seen when she addressed the Chamber because she was the shortest of the 48 members. It all was part of a State Capitol tour on Thursday for Afghan business women visiting the United States.

“I think it’s exciting and fun…it’s wonderful to meet women from other parts of the world who have the same aspirations that women in Oklahoma have,” said Wilcoxson, R-Oklahoma City.

The business owners are in the U.S. working on a high level business training and mentoring program called “Peace Through Business,” sponsored by the Women Impacting Public Policy Institute, headed by Oklahoma business woman Terry Neese, in partnership with the U.S. State Department, U.S. Afghan Women’s Council, and Northwood University. The women are visiting Oklahoma for the mentoring and cultural exchange component of the program.

“We just feel honored that they organize all this…for us and they welcome us here,” said Ferishtah Bakhteri, who plans to open a shopping center for women in Afghanistan. “Sometimes we don’t have the chance to meet our own governor, but we meet with the Senators (in Oklahoma). We learn so much…it’s really an honor for us.”

Surgeon Hasina Rasuli plans to create a mobile health clinic in rural Afghanistan. She said she had been able to visit Norman Regional Hospital and a breast cancer clinic. She was also excited by the way the Peace Through Business program reached out to other women.

“I’m so excited (to see) that women in all the world, how they have feelings for each other….that makes me more proud that the unity of women makes help for (not only Afghanistan women) all the women in the world. We can show that we are all women and we can… do everything,” Rasuli said.
Neese said while in Oklahoma, the Afghan women had been guests in the homes of Oklahoma business women who acted as personal mentors.

“These women have taken the entire week off from their businesses, essentially, to house them in their homes, to have them at their businesses … to talk to them about how they market their company…how they do their books and accounting, a little bit of everything,” said Neese, who explained the mentors also shared how they balanced work and family.

Bakhteri said things had changed dramatically for women in Afghanistan in the past few years, opening new opportunities in education and business.

“We had some tough years in the past…within four years Afghanistan has developed…there are a lot of differences and visible changes which we are happy about it, and our government is also very supportive and encouraging women,” Bakhteri said, adding the same was true for education. “Everything is just changing positively. I would say that Afghanistan is back.”

For more information, contact:
Senator Wilcoxson's Office: (405) 521-5618

Inon: Horizontal Blue Band

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