President Bush presided at a White House ceremony Monday honoring women around the world who are fighting for freedom. VOA's Paula Wolfson has details.

March is women's history month in the United States. And the president recognized not only those who have made a difference in the past, but those who are changing lives today.

"We take pride in the progress women have made here at home and we know that millions of women abroad are still working to secure their basic rights," said President Bush.

He made specific mention of women who are playing a key role in emerging democracies, such as Afghanistan and Iraq. And he pointed to Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as an example of just how much an empowered woman can do to bring a country on the brink of collapse to a hopeful future.

"Liberians call President Johnson 'the iron lady' and 'Ma', said Mr. Bush. "I am proud to call her 'friend.'"

Mr. Bush also spoke of the women who take on tyrants in an effort to bring freedom to their countries. He told the stories of activists in Cuba and Belarus. And he pledged America's ongoing commitment to the Democracy movement in Burma led by Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

"Aung San Suu Kyi has never wavered," he said. "Her courage and her writings have inspired millions. And in so doing, they have put fear into the hearts of the leaders of the Burmese junta."

Among those attending the event at the White House were women who hold key posts in the president's cabinet, serve in Congress, and represent their countries as ambassadors in Washington.