Hillary Clinton went out with a bang on her last day as Secretary of State yesterday. Her address to the Council on Foreign Relations was nothing short of inspiring. Throughout her tenure as Secretary of State, Clinton has worked tirelessly to advance women’s rights. All over the Middle East, Clinton has urged leaders to utilize a largely untapped resource: intelligent, capable women. She has encouraged women activists in Yemen, aspiring female government employees in Egypt, and young girls worldwide. Additionally, she pushed President Obama to create the position of ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues, in order to better address issues of women’s health, education, and empowerment. This portion of yesterday’s speech, which addresses violence against women and gender equality, is a must-read, and an eloquent summation of years of dedicated service.
“It’s not a coincidence that virtually every country that threatens regional and global peace is a place where human rights are in peril or the rule of law is weak.
More specifically, places where women and girls are treated as second-class, marginal human beings. Just ask young Malala from Pakistan. Ask the women of northern Mali who live in fear and can no longer go to school. Ask the women of the Eastern Congo who endure rape as a weapon of war.
And that is the final lever that I want to highlight briefly. Because the jury is in, the evidence is absolutely indisputable: If women and girls everywhere were treated as equal to men in rights, dignity, and opportunity, we would see political and economic progress everywhere. So this is not only a moral issue, which, of course, it is. It is an economic issue and a security issue, and it is the unfinished business of the 21st century. It therefore must be central to U.S. foreign policy.
One of the first things I did as Secretary was to elevate the Office of Global Women’s Issues under the first Ambassador-at-Large, Melanne Verveer. And I’m very pleased that yesterday, the President signed a memorandum making that office permanent.
In the past four years, we’ve made – (applause) – thank you. In the past four years, we’ve made a major push at the United Nations to integrate women in peace and security building worldwide, and we’ve seen successes in places like Liberia. We’ve urged leaders in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya to recognize women as equal citizens with important contributions to make. We are supporting women entrepreneurs around the world who are creating jobs and driving growth.
So technology, development, human rights, women. Now, I know that a lot of pundits hear that list and they say: Isn’t that all a bit soft? What about the hard stuff? Well, that is a false choice. We need both, and no one should think otherwise.”
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