Monday, February 23rd, 2009 at 2:00 pm
Secretary Clinton: “We have to remain vigilant on behalf of women’s rights”
Over at the State Department’s Dipnote blog, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Christopher R. Hill wraps up Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s trip to Asia discussing a town hall at Ewha University in Seoul. He describes the scene last week: "Thousands of students showed up -- despite the fact that they're on winter break -- to ask the Secretary everything from what her priorities were as Secretary of State to how she's managed to balance the demands of career and family."
Secretary Clinton gave an impassioned call to continue defending and advancing women’s rights around the world, condemning recent brutality in Afghanistan and elsewhere. During the Q&A session she had an interesting exchange about her role dealing with foreign leaders as a woman:
QUESTION: You spoke a lot about being a woman and how women are a necessity to the world right now. How has -- especially being a mother. How has it been dealing with other world leaders who aren’t as accepting of the role of women for example, in different countries who don’t really respect women? How has that been trying to get them to cooperate with you as a female yourself?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don’t feel like I’ve had any problems either as a senator or in my short tenure as Secretary of State, because I hold an official position and I represent the -- in the first case, the United States Senate, or in this case, as the representative of the United States. So there is a funny kind of difference that sometimes goes on in some countries that are not particularly supportive of women in official positions. I think they just kind of ignore the fact that they’re dealing with someone who’s a woman. That seems to be almost a change that goes on in their mind.
So I don’t have any problems with that, but I do believe that it’s important for someone in my position to raise the role of women on an ongoing basis, even in countries where women are not given full and equal rights. So I don’t think it’s enough that people deal with me; I want them to deal with their own women, I want them to think about giving all women the rights to be fully functioning, productive citizens. So that is part of the mission that I feel I carry as the Secretary of State of the United States, and that’s what I intend to promote as I travel around the world talking about a lot of these important matters that are really at the core of the kind of future we’re going to have for ourselves and our children. (Applause.)