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Keeping up with Madame Secretary: Women and Girls Front and Center

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets with women from SEWA in Mumbai, India, on July 18, 2009.

Wonk the Vote here, bringing a Week’s worth of Hillary, with the cause of women and girls informing every foreign policy move Madame Secretary makes. I thought it would be nice heading towards the week’s end to collect some Hillary headlines and share some quick thoughts on it all. It’s good for the spirit. Especially with the news being nothing but bad juju lately it seems.

This statement from Hillary is from a week ago (October 1, 2010) and is just so good I’m going to quote it in its entirety:

Today, the United States joined with the international community to send a clear message: discrimination against women is a violation of human rights. I applaud the UN Human Rights Council for adopting an historic resolution to create a new mechanism that will promote the elimination of laws that discriminate against women. Establishing this mechanism by consensus at the UN Human Rights Council reinforces once again that women’s rights are human rights, and human rights are women’s rights.

Equality for women is not only a matter of justice — it is a political, economic, and strategic imperative. The world cannot make progress if women are denied the opportunity to fulfill their God-given potential. The United States will continue its commitment to advance the human rights of women and girls around the world.

Next up… a look at what’s on the state.gov homepage. I grabbed the following text blurbs and vids from the rotating announcements on there.

Most Powerful Women Summit:

Secretary Clinton (Oct. 6): “Supporting women and girls is both the right thing to do and also the smart thing to do. That’s why we have made it a key priority of the foreign policy in the Obama Administration.” Full Text» Vodpod videos no longer available.

Launch of the mWomen Program:

Secretary Clinton (Oct. 7): “We’re called to close the mobile gender gap because of our commitment to fairness and because of our commitment to progress.” Full Text»Briefing» Vodpod videos no longer available.

U.S. Pledge to Global Fund:

Coordinator Goosby (Oct. 5): “This pledge is part of a comprehensive approach to combat AIDS, TB, and malaria through President Obama’s Global Health Initiative.” Full Text»

The state.gov website understandably chose to highlight the U.S. Pledge to Global fund for October 5th (Tuesday), but on that same day something else worth highlighting took place: Hillary received the George McGovern Leadership Award for her work on addressing global hunger. You can read a full transcript of her acceptance remarks by clicking here. Below is an excerpt along with the footage: (Click the prompt to keep reading, lots more Hillary stuff to come…)

This is an issue that time and again in the last 20 months people have asked me, well, why food – which seems like a kind of odd question since it’s such a – we’re also working on water and air. We’re working on all the basics. (Laughter.) And it’s because we really recognized that it’s no longer enough just to give lip service to the need to increase a family’s and a community’s and a country’s capacity to care for themselves. We are taking a very hard look at our development programs because we want to do a better job with the dollars that the American taxpayer gives us.

I’m old-fashioned enough to think that people who support our development work as a nation actually want to see results. And there is just a human, visceral response to ending hunger. I’ve never had an argument about it. You can have arguments about a lot of the other stuff that we think is important in helping people to become self-sufficient. But when it comes to food, particularly helping people produce their own food, there’s an agreement on the goal and there’s surprising agreement on many of the means to achieve that goal.
Vodpod videos no longer available.

Hillary recognized and thanked a bunch of people for their efforts, including Cindy McCain for her humanitarian work, which I thought was such a decent and classy thing to do.

Hill, of course, also brought out the women factor:

We understand that agricultural development in many parts of the world is primarily a women’s issue because in most places in the developing world 60 to 70 percent of the small farmers are women, and they are very often denied access to the best seeds and fertilizer and other assets that will contribute to increasing their yield. We know that it does very little good to increase yield in a region of a country where there are no roads to get the excess produced to market in any timely way. We know that in the absence of storage facilities, including cold storage that can be shared either because of the private sector building them or government programs that incentivize the building of them, we’re still going to lose about 40 percent of the harvest in many countries.

The above reminds me of a great “big picture” quote from the Big Dawg himself, no doubt influenced by Hillary:

“According to the United Nations, women do 66% — two thirds — of the world’s work, produce 50% of the world’s food — a fact which would stun people in this country given the way agriculture is organized — earn 10% of the world’s income, and own 1% of the world’s property.” –President Bill Clinton, at the Clinton Global Initiative in September 2009, discussing why we need to invest in girls and women

Here is the Feed the Future initiative that Hillary introduced at the Clinton Global Initiative in September 2009. (It’s a video narrated by none other than Matt Damon.)

Now let’s jump back to the current day on the calendar. This is a headline from the Oct. 7th, 2010 Times of India“SEWA transforming women’s lives in India: Hillary Clinton” (it’s a writeup on her remarks about SEWA at the Most Powerful Women Summit that I linked to and put the video for above):

WASHINGTON: Terming NGO ‘SEWA’ as one of the most effective women’s organisations in the world, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it has transformed the lives of many poor women in India.

“Last year in Mumbai, I visited a shop owned and operated by women selling crafts and textiles, most of whom come from the very lowest socio-economic stratum, all of whom are organised through one of the most effective women’s organisations in the world, Self-Employed Women’s Association known as SEWA,” Clinton said.

Ok Wonk here interjecting really quickly here to give you the SEWA website url:

I now return you to Hillary:

“I’ve worked with SEWA for many years. I have literally seen the transformation in lives that banding together has catalysed in individual women’s lives,” Clinton said in her remarks at the 12th Annual Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit in Washington.

“I also, last summer, went back to Cape Town, and for the third time, I visited a group of women who, on their own, transformed their position as squatters into homeowners and then community leaders.

I’d already been to one of the housing developments that these women through their own sweat equity had created, and this time I went to the second housing development that they are starting,” she said.

“The women that I have come to know don’t have much education, but they are among the most powerful and effective women I have ever met. And they have created now two thriving communities where before there was apathy if not despair,” Clinton said.

She really is amazing, isn’t she? This is what leadership looks and sounds like. She is bringing it back to the power of ordinary women and their audacity to survive.

“I’ve been all over the world talking to women who have overcome odds that even I find daunting, thinking about coming from oppression and repression, coming to stand against family members who want to keep you down, government officials, and other threats,” she said.

“When I was in the Democratic Republic of Congo last summer, I met some of the most extraordinary women I’ve ever seen anywhere in the world, women who themselves had been brutally attacked and assaulted, left for dead, but who refused to die, and who are now part of a healing community,” she said.

“I also have talked with a number of women who are making their own entrepreneurial mark on the world, from Jerusalem to Islamabad, meeting women who are taking the tool of microenterprise and turning it into better lives for themselves and creating supportive communities,” Clinton said.

Like I said back in January 2009, in my writeup about Hillary’s historic run and new role as SoS:

Imagine a Madame Secretary who is unafraid to go on the world stage and say what needs to be said for as long as it needs to be said: Women’s rights are not auxillary to the issue of human rights, nor are these concepts mutually exclusive–you cannot have one without the other. It’s as if she goes everywhere with a little sign that puts everyone on notice: “Let it be that human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights once and for all. Let us not forget that among those rights are the right to speak freely — and the right to be heard.”

Here in 2010, we don’t have to imagine her! She’s out there everyday putting everybody on notice that women’s rights and roles are a critical part of foreign policy and ARE national security (that’s a youtube of Hillary at the UN in September 2009).

Ok, this is totally trivial, but if you check out the comment section at the Times of India article, there are two comments there as of the time I compiled this post.

One is from Singapore and reads, “Can some one reply with some information about SEWA where I can donate and contribute services?”

The other is from the US and simply declares, “she shud have been the President.”

It’s silly, but it made me smile.

If you need another pick-me-up, this amusing little fluff about “meeting Hillary” popped up on my Hillary news feeds.

And, if you want to enjoy these uplifting headlines a little longer, please avoid the idiocy about Hillary’s future from professional loser and Democratic [sic] strategist [sic] Bob Shrum. (That is, if you haven’t stumbled upon it already. I’ve skimmed it and can already tell it’s an infuriating piece of garbage.) I’m linking to it so you can read it at some other time if you wish, but let me sum it up for you: Shrum talks a bunch of shit about the obvious and manages to put an odd spin on everything.

Please share any Hillary news you’ve been reading in the comments below, and it’s perfectly fine if you go OT too. As Hillary turns a new leaf for women and girls and all peoples everywhere she goes, so too does the world just keep on turning!

I will leave you with the youtube below, which is of Hillary on the Senate floor in October 2008. THIS is the speech that I often think of whenever I hear economic doom and gloom on the domestic front. It was one of the first things I thought of when I heard the news about the TARP 2 passing Congress surreptitiously with bipartisan support.

This is a woman who had a plan for our domestic agenda, and the oligarchy made sure we didn’t get to see her carry it out… I am nothing but appreciative that we have her on the global stage, though:

54 Responses

  1. Excellent post!!!

  2. The formatting of this post got all goofy for some reason — wordpress added div tags on every line without my telling it to. I tried to clean it all up line by line, but sorry for any typos or anything I missed.

  3. narrated by none other than Matt Damon
    Not THE Matt Damon? …ok, we’ve got a running joke about Matt, sorry, couldn’t resist.

    • F**king Matt Damon

    • Lol! Seems to be a neverending supply of Matt Damon jokes.

      Well… not THE Matt Damon as in the one who called Palin a really bad Disney movie and cited actuary tables to predict McCain’s lifespan… but the smart Matt Damon who always knew Hillary was smart 🙂

  4. That’s beautiful, but it’s also depressing. We’re going backwards and I can’t help feeling the next time the women of the world find a strong ally in this country will pretty much be never. Not for a long, long time anyway.

  5. Fantastic goodies.
    Thank you.

  6. Like Dak the other day, THANK YOU WONK!! With all the disappointments currently out there, it is nice to know that there really is a bastion of hope that we can rally around even if the idiot class, rethugs and obots choose not to. Reading this post only reinforces for me that there is only one other person I want to see in the WH and he can’t go back….

    Hillary 2012

  7. Wonderful post.

    Hillary’s speeches just make Obama’s speeches look that much more tepid.

  8. Thank you, Wonk! I needed a positive note to end the day [or rather night] on. And an update on our SoS is just the ticket. And I’m also glad she’s working for us all around the globe.

    Nice to be reminded that there’s at least one politician on our side.

  9. Thanks for shot of Hillary. Its always wonderful to hear her insights and witness her passionate optimism. But I get melancholy watching her because I think of what we missed and what a smart and wonderful POTUS she would have been.

  10. I was trolling Cafferty’s wedsite at CNN and he asked the question of his readers, who they would vote for in 2012 if Hillary primaried Obama. The response was 2 to 1 for Hillary. She really was the peoples choice and every day it becomes more obvious.

    I’m confident that after the rethugs take over in November, the truth about 2008 will come out. Obama has left many of those who stabbed Clinton in the back to support him in the primaries, to twist in the wind as their own political careers fall apart. Eventually, someone other than the voters will start talking and I can’t wait!!!

  11. O/T

    “By their definition, success is winning back the House, winning back the Senate and winning every major governor’s race,” Plouffe, Obama’s 2008 campaign manager, said. “When you’ve got winds this strong in your favor, that’s the kind of election you need to have – or it should be considered a colossal failure.”
    Washington Pravda


  12. It would have been such a beautiful addition to your post Wonk, if this year a woman had been named the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. After all there are plenty of women and women’s organisations all over the world who fight – and die! – for women’s rights. And damn’it there are 4 women in the 5 member NPP committee!

    Not that I object to Liu Xiaobo receiving the prize, which is fine – though I fear that the political implications (the Chinese foreign minister had warned the committee in advance not to reward Liu) will overshadow the good that could be, and should be the outcome of the award.

  13. Last year 4 of the Nobel Laureates were women. This year … none. Unless they once again reward a female economist which I doubt. Not two years in a row.

    So, sad to say, last year’s big percentage of female recipients were an exception rather than a (new) rule. “Same procedure as before last year.”!

  14. Thank you for this. This work and her advocacy for women and girls is exactly why I think she should be POTUS. It’s time we had a woman in that position but, not just anyone. Someone who “gets” these issues and cares. I don’t see anyone better on the horizon than Hillary Clinton in this regard. She’d inspire others to be stronger advocates. Along with all of her other capabilities she’s a very strong voice for the voiceless. “You are not invisible to me”

    She deserves a lot more credit for all she’s done on these issues for women.

  15. If only “The Most Powerful Woman in the World” would use her power the same way: To help women and children. What a great cause!

    And am I the only one seeing a bit of ironi in the fact that Hillary Clinton tries to fight hunger while Michelle Obama fights obesity? Can you imagine if those two worked together ! As in ‘Michelle taking advice from Hillary’. Guess that won’t happen.

    • Yes, the irony. They seem to be polar opposites in their mission to help the less fortunate. Hillary wants to give the poor food while Michelle tells the poor that they need to get off their fat asses and eat less. Which initiative do you think will save more lives and have a greater impact on the world?

  16. Pips, Hillary has worked on women’s causes with a lot of people and for children as well. I think she’d be open to working with Michelle Obama too if FLOTUS was willing and had the passion to do this work Hillary would welcome her.

    • Oh I know, and absolutely agree.

      When Hillary Clinton invited Michelle Obama to the State Department Women of Courage Awards 2009 she not only (unselfish) stepped back to let MO get attention, I also saw that as a way of suggesting to the younger woman how she could use her now powerful position: Direct attention towards women.

      In her speech Hillary Clinton even said:
      “… through her grace and her wisdom [Michelle Obama has] become an inspiration to women and girls, not only in the United States, but around the world” (As in ‘nudge nudge, hint hint’, no?)

  17. Hillary news IS good for the spirit – thank you.

  18. Fear not, the “elites” of the Democratic party would rather go down in flames than give Hillary any respect she deserves. Just as they did to Bill.
    Did Obama ever blame the loss of the House back in 1994 directly on Bill and is there a video of it?
    I’d like to dust it off for my O-bot non-friends if one exists after the election.

  19. If it’s Friday, it’s DUdies time. They wonder over here: What R POTUS could you live with in 2012?

  20. So nice to wake up to substantive info about HRC working hard in the world…

    then there’s this silly prognostication to keep Hope Alive!

    Obama’s a Lock in 2012

    Sure, things look grim for the Dems this fall. But the base will rally, the economy will turn up, and the GOP will shoot itself in the foot—ensuring the president a second term.


    • I remember identical articles in 2002. Of course, W didn’t really win in 2004 – but a few recounts in Ohio, Florida and other states with Rove “running the numbers” – and, voila! They were proven right!

    • Yeah, I posted that in another thread yesterday. This particular Obot in denial teaches journalism at CUNY.

  21. love that Madam S.O.S.:-(

  22. I have an inside tidbit on Madame SOS! I know, I’m such an insider…ha…Anyway, a friend of mine works at the State Dept. and has served under Rice and Powell. He said the staff loves her there, that she’s smart as heck and is making both friends and enemies in the right places.

    I was telling him that HC seems to travel much more than the other two did. He said it’s definitely true and it’s because she doesn’t like negotiating or meeting on the phone or video conference; she insists on face-to-face meetings. I thought that was an interesting bit of info about Madame C.

  23. And yes I was joking about being a DC insider. I am about as “inside” as the worms in the WH garden.

  24. OMG! Fab post! Thank you! You brightened my day!

    I am nothing but appreciative that we have her on the global stage, though:


  25. It is so refreshing to read this about a woman who knows what she’s doing and does it well. Thanks for the post.

  26. Good post to set the tone for a lovely weekend.

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