Clinton making women her signature issue
Hillary Clinton, Mumbai, July 18, 2009 | INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images Secretary Clinton said the words “women” or “woman” at least 450 times in public comments during her first five months at the State Department — twice as much as Condoleezza Rice, her predecessor, did, the Washington Post reports. It’s unambiguously clear that the secretary ...
Secretary Clinton said the words “women” or “woman” at least 450 times in public comments during her first five months at the State Department — twice as much as Condoleezza Rice, her predecessor, did, the Washington Post reports.
It’s unambiguously clear that the secretary of state is making women’s empowerment her signature issue. Her eyes glistened with tears as she listened to rape survivors tell their stories in eastern Congo. She spent 90 mintues at the women-run Victoria Mxenge housing development in South Africa, twice the time she spent with the country’s president. In India, she met with members of a women’s self-help group, and earlier this year, she appointed the State Department’s first ever women’s issues ambassador.
“We have to integrate women — or we’re going to be fired,” one State Department official joked during a meeting about an aid program, a source told the Washington Post. Such lighthearted comments convey the more serious message that women’s rights are no longer a second-tier back-burner issue, something to attend to after the “more important” issues are tackled.
Clinton “gets it” that investments in girls’ education, maternal health, and women’s microfinance enable women to stand up and change their societies from within. In the book Kabul Beauty School, about an American woman who set up a beauty school in Afghanistan, an Afghan woman explains why her conservative Muslim husband let her work outside the home: He’s unemployed, and her hairdressing work brings in money. A woman’s education and income power can change the internal dynamics of a household, and across many households, that can change a society. And societal change indeed affects those “more important” issues such as the Islamist extremism that fosters terrorism.
Referring to her trips abroad, Clinton told the Post, “My coming gives [women] a platform, which then gives us the chance to try and change the priorities of the governments.” That’s Clinton’s star power truly shining.
Photo: INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images
Preeti Aroon was copy chief at Foreign Policy from 2009-2016 and was an assistant editor from 2007-2009. Twitter: @pjaroonFP
More from Foreign Policy
America Is a Heartbeat Away From a War It Could Lose
Global war is neither a theoretical contingency nor the fever dream of hawks and militarists.
The West’s Incoherent Critique of Israel’s Gaza Strategy
The reality of fighting Hamas in Gaza makes this war terrible one way or another.
Biden Owns the Israel-Palestine Conflict Now
In tying Washington to Israel’s war in Gaza, the U.S. president now shares responsibility for the broader conflict’s fate.
Taiwan’s Room to Maneuver Shrinks as Biden and Xi Meet
As the latest crisis in the straits wraps up, Taipei is on the back foot.