QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, former First Lady of the United States Eleanor Roosevelt only allowed female reporters to her press conferences, forcing – so editors to hire women. Do such methods – should be taken in our days for similar reasons, for – strengthen positions of women?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that’s a very interesting question. Eleanor Roosevelt is someone whom I admire greatly, and because she would only be interviewed by women reporters, she forced newspapers to hire more women. I think that that is probably not necessary in today’s world because you’re sitting there and I am frequently interviewed by very able women reporters. But I do think that focusing on women’s rights and equality for women remains a very big issue for the world today.
QUESTION: But anyway, you are one of the most powerful, if not most powerful, women of the world. Do you agree with the words of one prominent Lithuanian diplomat who resided in Russian Federation and in Soviet Russia after its transformation? So he said, “Small countries are like coins, like a change in the hands of super states being used to pay their debts.” These words were said more than half a century ago, but what about today?
SECRETARY CLINTON: That is such an unfortunate sentiment, and it is one that we should reject completely. Just look at what Lithuania has accomplished in the last 20 years – not only your independence, but a thriving democracy, economic progress. There is so much to be proud of, and Lithuania is indeed a model. Some large countries should look to Lithuania if they want to learn about democracy and human rights and how to have a stable, prosperous society.
QUESTION: Dick Cheney, the U.S. vice president, delivering a speech here in Vilnius a few years ago, said that Russia deepening slide into authoritarianism and is willing to use oil and gas reserves as a political weapon. Have things changed since 2006?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think what has changed is a recognition by many countries, my own certainly included, that energy security is part of national security. Ever since I’ve been Secretary of State, I have had a team of people working on the whole question of energy security in Europe. Because we don’t have any objection with Russia or anyone selling gas to customers, but we don’t want to see unfair competition, we don’t want to see monopolistic practices, and we want to encourage European countries to do more to become energy-independent. And that’s why I was very impressed with the law that your parliament has just passed to have a national energy-independent strategy.
QUESTION: Official in Vilnius also declared the idea to create – to found energetic security research center. It was in NATO (inaudible) –
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Sneezed.) Excuse me, sorry. I apologize.
QUESTION: Do you see any (inaudible) of such a center and how it could affect both energetic security of Lithuania and relations with Russia?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m very interested in this Lithuanian idea, and we think more emphasis has to be paid to helping countries become energy-secure. If a center could contribute to that, it would be a worthy idea. But in the meantime, I think what Lithuania is doing to try to diversify your energy supply, looking at the ways of having solidarity in the region with the Baltic countries, to have more energy supplies that can be shared, I think that’s the most urgent priority right now.
QUESTION: Let’s talk about defense. Defense Secretary Robert Gates expressed concern regarding European countries because they are not keen to assign proper budgets for defense needs. Is under-financing of defense causing danger for Lithuanian security?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think what Secretary Gates was doing was sounding the warning bell. There is not an immediate danger. We take our Article 5 collective security obligations very seriously. And in fact, it is under the Obama Administration that we’re now doing the kind of contingency planning that is necessary to reassure all of our allies.
But I think Secretary Gates has a good point, and that is the United States has historically carried most of the load – disproportionately – for the financing of NATO because our defense expenditures are so high. And what we want to see is not only steady, and in some cases, increased defense budgets, but we want to see more cooperation so that assets can be shared. There is a lot of ways that regional economies can be obtained by having countries work together within NATO, and we want to see that occur.
QUESTION: Here, we come to the quote that belongs to you, and I would like to remind – you have said, “At the end of the day, no one on his or her deathbed ever says, ‘I wish I had spent more time at the office.’” So how to draw the balance line between professional aims and obligations and personal life, and expectations of the children to see mommy not just for the bedtime story only?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think it’s one of the biggest challenges that people face, particularly women. Trying to balance family responsibilities and outside professional responsibilities is a never-ending balancing act. And every woman has to do it for herself; there’s no formula for how to do it. But certainly, I think the most important thing in life is really your family responsibilities and how you raise children. And I have an adult daughter who I see a lot, but I don’t have to care for her like I did when she was a toddler or going to school or even keeping an eye out for her as a teenager. So these different stages of life demand different responses.
QUESTION: I have one more question about the history. With all the respect of – to United States for its long recognition of policy, America was among the states who approved Potsdam, Yalta, and Tehran agreements which divided Europe to – into the spheres of influence after the World War Second. And no regrets for this have ever been declared. Is it possible that someday, Washington will do this, sending a strong message that United States will never tolerate any double standards in all possible areas, meaning politics, sexual equality, rights equality, et cetera?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think it’s fair to say that the United States has long believed that we should not have double standards. And sometimes in the decisions one has to make as a nation, there are bad choices and worse choices, and one tries to figure out how to save the most lives, how to provide the most support for the values that we share, and that was certainly the case after World War II, such a horrific war that took so many tens of millions of lives, and I think everyone was hoping that there could be peace. And certainly, from our perspective, we fought hard to prevent the march of communism and we never gave up on seeing the Baltic countries free again.
QUESTION: In 2003, you wrote that preserving your marriage and running for senator were the most difficult decisions of your life. Which one was harder to make?
SECRETARY CLINTON: They’re both difficult. Running for the Senate was a hard decision. Accepting President Obama’s offer to be Secretary of State was a hard decision. Everybody faces hard decisions in their life, and you do the best you can, and hopefully things work out.
QUESTION: Can you share your future plans, your professional future career plans?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I don’t know what they are. I know that I’ve had a great privilege and honor representing my country, and I’m looking forward to the next 18 months of hard work on behalf of the United States. And then I’ll do something else, but what it is right now, I don’t know.
QUESTION: Many thanks.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, nice to talk with you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: (In progress) and thank you for your patience. I appreciate greatly being here for this important conference as part of the Community of Democracies beginning its second decade. And I want to acknowledge those who are on the podium with me. Thank you, Wendy, for that introduction; and Margot Wallstrom, thank you for the work you’re doing; and my friend, the president from Finland who has been a great leader in so many of these issues for so long; and my friend and our host and our ally in this important conference, Dalia, thank you so much for everything that you have done.
It is such a pleasure for the United States to be co-chairing the Community of Democracies Working Group on Gender Equality and the Promotion of the Rights of Women with a trailblazer when it comes to women in politics. And I am delighted to see in the audience so many distinguished leaders from across the world. In addition to the presidents of Finland and Lithuania, we have also Mongolia, Kosovo; I know Cathy Ashton will also be part of this important conference. And I’m also told by our global ambassador for women’s issues, Melanne Verveer, that the conversation has already been very productive.
I think this is an important time for us all to pause and take stock of where we are as democracies and whether we are fulfilling the promise and potential that we so believed in over the last decades. When the Soviet Union collapsed here in Europe, we knew that there was a lot of work to be done to build democratic institutions, to ensure the rule of law, accountability, transparency, protection of minorities, a free press, an independent judiciary, and so much else. But we also knew that if democracy did not deliver in tangible ways, in improving the lives of people, there would be great disappointment. And it was essential that women, half the population, needed to be given the opportunity to fully experience the benefits of freedom.
I’m not sure we could have foreseen even 10 or 11 years ago how much progress has been made. Just look at Lithuania today. Not only has it conducted a very successful chairmanship of the Community of Democracies, but it is setting a high standard for the rest of us – a female president, a female speaker of parliament, a female finance minister, and a female defense minister. Why, pretty soon, they’re going to start comparing Lithuania to Finland. (Laughter.) (Applause.) And what Central and Eastern Europe have proven is that democracy without the full rights and responsibilities guaranteed and the full participation welcomed of women is a contradiction. And so we can look at this region and see an enormous amount of progress. But let’s be very honest with ourselves – there is still a long way to travel.
According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, 20 percent of seats in parliaments worldwide are now held by women. I would add that’s a higher percentage than in my own country. And with one-half the population, there is simply no reason women should only be represented at one-fifth of the seats at the table. In too many places, still today, and in too many discussions affecting the futures of entire societies, women’s voices, their vital voices are underrepresented or absent altogether.
But as we look at new democracies taking hold, from Latin America to Africa and the Middle East and Asia, I think there are so many lessons that can be learned and applied from what happened here in Europe.
Think about the Polish women who ran a shipyard’s newspaper that helped bring about a revolution that truly did change the world. Think about a woman like Nasta Palazhanka of Belarus, who joined a youth protest movement at age 14 and continues to devote her life to bringing freedom and human rights to her country. Or think about a woman like Zane Olina, who returned home from a Fulbright Scholarship in America and created a corps of volunteer teachers to serve in poor Latvian communities, and she calls her program Mission Possible. And of course, we see it in the President of Lithuania, who as an economist and now as president, has helped to put and keep Lithuania on the path to prosperity.
So if we are looking for examples of individual leadership, of results, we have many we can share from Europe. Today, it is North Africa and the Middle East experiencing its own season of change, and we especially have to work together to ensure that all people – women, as well as men – are part of that change.
Across the region, we have seen on our own television screens how women have stood on the frontlines of the struggle for freedom and human rights. They have more than earned their place as equals in the democratic societies they have struggled to create, but we know that transitions to democracy are difficult. And we know that they come from the soil of preexisting cultures, and so we have to be sure that democratic change doesn’t leave women behind. We need to, for example, ensure that the new democratic Tunisia embraces and reaffirms its commitment to women’s equality.
The United States was disappointed to see only two Tunisian women appointed to the Transitional Government, but there is also some good news. In April, the commission responsible for drafting Tunisia’s new electoral code ruled that there must be full gender parity on election candidate lists and not just at the bottom of the lists, but from the top down. And for our part, we are supporting on-the-ground efforts to increase women’s participation in the political process.
In Egypt, we have seen steps both forwards and backwards. Women played an absolutely critical role in carrying out Egypt’s revolution, and yet Egypt’s constitutional committee does not have a single female member. When women marched to celebrate International Women’s Day, they were harassed and abused. As one woman put it, “The men were keen for me to be here when we were demanding that Mubarak should go. But now that he has gone, they want me to go home.” So the United States supports efforts like the Charter of Egyptian Women. Nearly 500,000 women and men and 500 NGOs signed on to a set of demands for the political, social, and economic rights of women in Egypt. And we will be funding a wide variety of programs to help Egyptian women as they exercise their roles as community leaders, business owners, and citizens.
And today, we are pleased to welcome women from across the Arab world, including Hoda Badran of the Alliance for Arab Women. It’s a sign of how important the relationships are between old, young, and new democracies that they have taken the time, as their countries undergo dramatic change, to be here with us today.
We also need an active effort to ensure that women are safe from violence in the political process, on the streets, in their homes. And we were very troubled by reports of sexual violence used by governments to intimidate and punish protesters seeking democratic reforms in some Middle Eastern and North African countries. We urge all governments to conduct immediate, transparent investigations to hold those responsible accountable.
Just this past week, the United States and the United Nations came together, as we often have, to once again stand up against violence that affects women and girls. We are particularly concerned about the Democratic Republic of Congo. We have committed more than $30 million to combat sexual and gender-based violence there. And we salute the Lithuanian parliament for making it clear that there is absolutely no safe space, in public or in private, for violence against women. This is not a private a concern. It is a matter of public interest and human rights.
I think we also have to remember, as we meet in this beautiful hall, talking about women and democracy, how many tens of millions, hundreds of millions, of women and girls in the world today don’t yet even have the basic necessities of life – deprived of education, deprived of health care, deprived of an opportunity to live up to their own God-given potential. And we will campaign for their rights, and we will work for the changes that are necessary.
But I also want to remind us to keep our eye on what happens every day in their lives, and look for ways we can make a difference. For example, the World Health Organization considers smoke from dirty cooking stoves to be one of the five most serious health risks affecting people in poor and developing countries. And who’s mostly hunched over those stoves, breathing that dirty air, harming their health, shortening their lives? Who mostly is wandering for hours looking for fuel, either trees and twigs or dung? Who is it that really bears the brunt of the work that is done day to day in most places in the world? Well, it is women and girls. And in an effort to try to provide clean cookstoves in 100 million homes by 2020, the United States, along with many other countries, led by the United Nations Foundation, is part of the Clean Cookstoves Global Alliance.
Because we think changing the conditions of women and girls must go hand-in-hand; their economic, political, and social empowerment must be addressed simultaneously.
This January, as a commitment to the Community of Democracies, the United States brought together more than 120 women from Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Turkey, Greece, and Cyprus who own or wish to start small to medium-sized businesses to kick off the Invest for the Future Initiative. We want to help women across the world to train, network, and connect so that they too can start businesses to support themselves and their families, and eventually, employ their neighbors. And we will be expanding this program into Central Asia, the Balkans, Moldova, Belarus, and Ukraine.
We are especially appreciative of the work that has been done by so many of the European leaders represented here. We thank all of you for that support. I particularly want to thank the Scandinavian countries for the work you do to integrate refugees into your societies by giving women access to work and education, and by protecting women from the scourge of human trafficking. I want to acknowledge the programs that The Netherlands are running to train civil society leaders and business women in Afghanistan. And I want to thank Lithuania again for your support for women entrepreneurs in Georgia, Afghanistan, Belarus, and Ukraine.
We want to do more to figure out what it is women themselves want, because we don’t want to be in a position of imposing or trying to sell ideas that may or may not be responsive to the needs that women themselves have. Through the Gender Equality Working Group, we partnered with The Netherlands to put together dialogues with female civil society leaders. The first meeting was in Tunisia in May; it brought together women from Tunisia, Morocco, Yemen, Egypt, Iraq, and Lebanon.
So our work is to help empower and enable, to convene and then to support. Our struggle is not just about the choices people make in the voting booth, it’s about all the choices that should be available to women today – to study, to take out a loan, to inherit money, to win custody of children, to start a business, to drive.
Sometimes dignity means nothing more profound than to walk safely to fetch water or visit a friend without fear that you’ll be beaten, harassed, or kidnapped. But for too many women in too many places, even these most basic rights remain a distant dream. Whether you are a woman in downtown Cairo or a mother in a small Indian village or a girl growing up right here in Vilnius or in New York City, we have to send a clear, unmistakable message that young women, just like young men, have the right to their dreams and their dignity in the 21st century.
When you look back at the last 300 years of history, you can see a pattern. You can see that the 19th century, the great human rights struggle was against organized slavery; the 20th century, the great struggle was against totalitarianism; the great struggle of the 21st century is to ensure that women are fully given the rights they have as human beings – in their families, in their societies, and in the world.
So let us work together, day by day, to make sure that when we meet again 10 years from now, we will be able to look back on progress, not only continuing progress in my country, which someday, perhaps, will match Finland and Lithuania with having a woman president – (laughter) – but in every country everywhere – (applause). And particularly, let those of us who enjoy the benefits of freedom, for whom legal restrictions and barriers have been broken down, and what remains are more internal, more psychological – let us be sure that we keep opening doors for those elsewhere. We cannot take any solace in our own freedoms when women elsewhere are denied those same rights.
So this is a great opportunity for us to come together and acknowledge that women’s progress is essential for global progress, and the United States stands with all of you as we make that progress together. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)
The U.S. Department of State has named Dr. Protais Bunini Gahungu, an alumnus of the Citizen Exchanges program, as State Alumni Member of the Month. Throughout April, his leadership in the fields of community service, education and women’s empowerment will be recognized on the State Alumni website (https://alumni.state.gov), the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ official site for the more than one million alumni who have participated in a Department-sponsored exchange program.
Dr. Gahungu credits his Citizen Exchanges program for changing his life and helping him realize that great achievers can start small and grow to create a large impact. In 2000, following his exchange experience in the United States, Gahungu founded Misericorde, an NGO located in underserved areas around the capital city of Kigali that works to support the Rwandan process of unification and reconciliation.
Misericorde comprises three components: a counseling service, a school and a women’s entrepreneurship project. The counseling service serves about 700 people annually, including orphans, genocide survivors and couples with serious marital or relationship problems. Misericorde College, created in 2003, has an enrollment of 80 students, ages 12-20, of whom 38 attend for free. Not only students but also people in the surrounding neighborhood of Kiberinka Village benefit from the school’s small computer lab and library, which were furnished and equipped through donations. The women’s entrepreneurship project, called Tuzamurane, began in 2007 and has since trained 15 women in the community to make and sell bags, clothes and postcards from local materials. Priority is given to widows with financial need, those who have children at Misericorde College but cannot afford school fees, and those with HIV/AIDS.
Gahungu was among 30 alumni who organized to elect a steering committee for the Rwanda-U.S. Alumni Association (RUSA) in December 2010. Given his prior success in registering an NGO, he has offered to advise the steering committee when they register RUSA. Gahungu also serves as a preacher at Evangelical Gilgal Church and as the Director of Action of Evangelical Churches for the Promotion of Health and Development, a church-run organization with the mission to facilitate peace, reconciliation, health, and development projects throughout Rwanda.
Each month the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ Office of Alumni Affairs, which supports alumni as they build on their exchange experiences, confers the State Alumni Member of the Month award on an outstanding alumnus or alumna. For more information, visit the website at http://exchanges.state.gov/alumni/alumnus.html .
Media Contact: Catherine Stearns, StearnsCL@state.gov, phone (202) 632-6437
U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
Chairman Kerry Opening Statement At Hearing On “Afghanistan: Governance and the Civilian Strategy”
The full text of his statement as prepared is below:
I want to thank everyone for coming this afternoon. And I want to extend a special thanks to Ambassador Holbrooke, who has taken time from his busy schedule to appear again before the committee. As always, Dick, we look forward to hearing your insights on the current situation and on the prospects for the future in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
This is the Foreign Relations Committee’s 11th hearing on Afghanistan in the past year and a half. The number reflects our commitment to understanding the challenges in Afghanistan and our recognition of the critical role this conflict plays in the region and in our own national security.
The number also reflects an unfortunate fact: Last month, Afghanistan surpassed Vietnam as the longest military campaign in American history. More than 1,000 men and women have lost their lives in Afghanistan. Nearly 6,000 have been injured, many of them grievously. We owe a duty to every one of them, to their families and to the tens of thousands of other military and civilian personnel in Afghanistan from this country and our partners to exercise our oversight role seriously and responsibly.
This is a difficult moment in the Afghan conflict. Our progress is decidedly mixed, particularly in the south where the Taliban are strongest. They are assassinating government officials and tribal leaders and intimidating Afghans who want to support coalition efforts.
Corruption appears to be growing. One in three Afghan households reports having to pay a bribe to obtain public services. And our civilian aid efforts to bring stability and consolidate military gains are off to a slow start in the south and east.
Many people are asking whether we have the right strategy. Some suggest this is a lost cause. But grim as the statistics are, heartbreaking as every death is, this is not the time to give up.
This is the time to ask hard questions about the progress we are making toward our objectives of defeating Al Qaeda and bringing a measure of stability to Afghanistan. This is the time to demand accountability from our partners on the battlefield and in the corridors of government from Washington to Brussels, from Kabul to Kandahar.
And it’s time asses how our strategy fits the realities on the ground. Over the past year, some of those realities have changed, very few for the better. I believe the three conditions I laid out last October for deploying more troops still hold today, and I have doubts about whether they are being met.
First, we should insist on the presence of reliable Afghan troops to partner with our military before we clear an area. Second, in order to hold an area, we should require capable local leaders with whom we can partner to provide effective governance. And finally, to build and transfer an area to Afghan control, the civilian side must be prepared to move in quickly with well-implemented development aid.
Let me be clear: When these conditions are not met, it is difficult to imagine a good outcome.
Today’s hearing is intended to take a tough look at our civilian strategy to see if we are on the right path. The administration requested $4.4 billion in fiscal year 2010 to support civilian efforts in Afghanistan, and another $3.9 billion for next fiscal year.
We need to be smart in how we spend this money. In recent weeks, the committee staff conducted 16 briefings with the State Department and USAID to examine how we are spending the taxpayers’ money – dollar by dollar, sector by sector in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We will continue to keep a close eye on how our money is being used to promote stability in this region.
But all of these billions of dollars, and all of the sacrifices by our troops, will be irrelevant if the United States and our partners do not have a serious strategy to establish effective Afghan governance. The problem is that the key element of this strategy is the one over which we have the least control, and that is the willingness and the ability of Afghans to assume ownership of this effort.
For nearly nine years, most Afghans have seen themselves as bystanders in a conflict between the West and Al Qaeda being fought in their homeland. In recent months, we have launched a concerted effort to convince Afghans that this is their fight. This is not easy, given their historic distrust of foreigners on Afghan soil, but it is vital.
Ultimately, we need a better understanding of what success means in Afghanistan and what an acceptable state looks like there. I have said repeatedly that there is no purely military solution in Afghanistan. But we need to understand what a political solution looks like and how we get there.
These are some of the questions that we will be posing to Ambassador Holbrooke today.
Remarks by Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
This event took place on January 10, 2011. It aired on January 16, 2011.
MODERATOR: (In Arabic.) (Applause.) Your Honor, Mrs. Clinton, it is such an honor to have you on our show tonight.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
MODERATOR: You are a fascinating lady.
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.) Thank you.
MODERATOR: I mean, you have overcome so many obstacles on your way up to the status you are in now, the Secretary of State of the United States. Of course, you are an example to every woman who wants to achieve her ambition, and this is the way to enable her and strive for everything she wants to strive for, to achieve it. Welcome to our show, Mrs. Clinton.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I want to thank each of you for the opportunity to be on this show, which I know has such a broad audience and for now, nearly nine years, has presented subjects that are of importance to women and men, but through a woman’s perspective and with women’s voices. And so it’s a great honor for me to be here with you.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much. We are so interested in hearing what you have to tell us tonight. We’re going to have a lot of questions for you. I hope you’re ready.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m ready.
MODERATOR: But first we’re going to hear something.
SECRETARY CLINTON: In 1995, in one voice, the world declared “Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights.” And for many, those words have translated into concrete action. But for others, they remain a distant aspiration. Change on a global scale cannot and does not happen overnight.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.
MODERATOR: And honestly, it’s because you also said that there is no true democracy without women’s voices being heard. Now, men are the decision-makers; every power decision-making in this world is made by men. How is a woman’s voice going to be heard?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, I think that I’m in a country that has made a real commitment to education and to the inclusion of women in many if not all aspects of society. And I think that is a remarkable statement, that there has been so much progress. And in the region as a whole – not everywhere, but as a whole – there has been a change toward including women in government, business, the professions, academia, every walk of life.
So when I talk about women’s voices, I know women’s voices are important in the home. I know that women are very often decision-makers in the family. I know that in society, women influence greatly what goes on in the lives of the society. But now, we’re seeing women’s voices like the three of yours emerge in a more public way. Change is inevitable. It’s a question of how that change goes forward, whether it will be in a way that enhances the respect for culture, history, and identity, or whether it will try to turn the clock back and make it very difficult for societies to move forward.
So I think that what you’re doing on this show, which is one of the reasons I’m privileged to be here, is demonstrating that women’s voices should be heard and should be respected. And I’m hoping that in parts of the world today where that is not the case at all, that there can be heart given, encouragement given to girls and women, and a real opportunity for them to feel that the future will be better.
MODERATOR: Okay. Hillary, let me break the ice. You look much prettier than you look on TV. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you, I think. (Laughter.) Thank you, and congratulations on your marriage. I’m just a tiny bit embarrassed that you came back from your honeymoon to do this show, and please give your husband my apologies – (laughter) – my best wishes.
MODERATOR: (Inaudible.) Thank you. A lawyer, a wife, a mother, a senator, and now a Secretary of State – which of these are the real Hillary Clinton?
SECRETARY CLINTON: They all are. They all are, as I think it is in any woman’s life. Some of what I do has been acted out on the public stage now for a number of years. But I’ve always said that every woman I know is a multitasker, does a lot of different things, and assumes different roles, and not just in the home but also in the influence outside the home.
So for me, being a wife and a mother, being an advocate, a very active citizen, as well as having the privilege to be the first lady of my country, a senator from New York, and now Secretary of State has been a great honor. And I look at all of them and I feel very blessed and fortunate that I’ve had those experiences, but that, of course, only challenges me to be more so that other women can make the choices that are right for them. Not everyone wants to be a Secretary of State or a senator, but every woman may want to do more with the talent that she has and the abilities that she’s willing to invest in. And I love to see those opportunities available for young women.
MODERATOR: Mrs. Clinton, you’re talking about multitasking.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
MODERATOR: You travel a lot.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I do.
MODERATOR: Do you like traveling?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I like getting to where I’m going, yes.
MODERATOR: We all do.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
MODERATOR: But in the course of your travels, you have met hundreds of women of different backgrounds, different cultures, and so on. I do want to ask you about the differences. I want you to tell me what are the common challenges that women face in today’s world?
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s an excellent question, and there are common challenges despite the differences that we all have, which I think makes life more interesting because we’re not all the same. We have different experiences, we have different parents, we have different historical, cultural, religious backgrounds. But the vast majority of women whom I know in not only my own country, but around the world, they want to feel as though they are fulfilling their God-given potential, that they are able to contribute to family and society.
And every one of us is in a constant balancing act, because in – I’ll speak just for myself, and I’ve written about this in a couple of books that I’ve written – there is a constant challenge for women; are you doing enough of what you should be doing in every part of your life. So if you’re working and you’re a mother, how do you balance the responsibility which is the most important responsibility, in my opinion, namely to the next generation, to your children? How do you balance that with being a good worker outside the home? How do you balance the constant pressures from society to look good, to perform at the highest level of expectation from your society?
So every woman I know is in a constant balancing act in her own life and in her family and her society. And I think that for many women, it becomes – it can become a bit distressing because you never measure up to everything that is expected of you. And at some point, you just have to relax and say, “I’m going to do the best I can, and that’s all that can be expected of me.” And so I have these conversations in practically every part of the world.
MODERATOR: That’s very interesting, Madam Secretary, and yet the Western media often depicts the Arab woman as oppressed, as having basically no human rights, as being uneducated. Why and how can we solve this problem?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think it comes from a lack of awareness or understanding that needs to be slowly but surely changed. And there – it’s one of the reasons why I very much appreciate the chance to do a program like this, because I have a lot of the American press with me and they look at the three of you, and maybe that breaks down some stereotypes. Maybe that begins to create what I know to be a much more comprehensive and complex view of women’s roles in this part of the world or in many parts of the world.
I think that it’s not only unfair to stereotype any group of people, but it does a great disservice because then you don’t get the full appreciation of what is happening in this part of the world back in my own country. So I’m determined, through my travels, to do a lot of meetings like this. I do town halls, I do interviews like this, because I want to be someone who helps break down those stereotypes.
I really do believe that despite the differences that exist among us, there is such a common desire for our children and for the next generation to live in peace and prosperity and to be free of violence and want of all kinds. So I think part of my job is not just to meet with leaders and officials – with whom I will be meeting later, with the president and others – but to be a vehicle by which my country and others can get a somewhat clearer sense of what’s really happening. I can’t take everybody; I can’t take all 300 million Americans on my plane. But through the media, I can communicate a different message.
MODERATOR: Thank you. Mrs. Hillary, thanks for those answers, and they really were interested to have this interview. But as you know, we are Zayed University, and we have lots of the students here. And I think they have lots of questions. So let us have one of the questions that you would like to ask for Mrs. Hillary.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m looking forward to that. Now, don’t be shy.
MODERATOR: She’s very sweet, (inaudible).
SECRETARY CLINTON: There’s a hand that’s up right there.
MODERATOR: Where is –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right there in the second row, I see this young woman raising her hand.
MODERATOR: We’ll start with –
MODERATOR: Ladies first.
QUESTION: Good morning, Madam Secretary of State. I am (inaudible) with (inaudible). My question is: What do you think of a woman’s right in term of to choose for what they wear, (inaudible)?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I am in favor of women having the right to choose what they wear. I’m against women being forced to choose any particular form of dress. I think it should be respected what the women’s choices for dress are. But I believe strongly that each woman should have the opportunity to choose. And so that is my hope. And I look around here and I see all different sorts of choices being expressed, and I think that’s healthy, and it’s also a reflection of one’s identity. And so I hope that there will be that opportunity for choice.
MODERATOR: Great. We need another – more question, please? Okay. Yeah, we should give the men some.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, a question: The Middle East is going through a tremendous change currently, and clearly and fortunately, they are being provided to women in the region. This provides – and also introduces challenges where women are now breaking out of shelter, the society that shelters women. And shelter is also an opportunity for women to depend on husbands, family, and I have aunts and mother and sisters, and they are also coming out of a shelter. These opportunities are being provided.
I don’t see that most women are taking these opportunities. What advice can you give the women?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that’s a very honest question because you’re right, that many women have been, as you say, sheltered, protected within the family. I would hate to see the opportunities for women, particularly young women, to gain an education, to enter the workforce mean that they would not be respected within the family. So I think it is like any change that is going on in any society; there will be millions of decisions made over the next years about how best to do this.
And I do think it’s important to send a very clear message to the larger society that women who are going to school, who are being educated, who are participating publicly in their voice being heard in society, still retain the respect and the protection of their families. But at the same time, that’s not used as an excuse or a reason to prevent women from pursuing those outside interests. So I’m very aware of the potential conflict and confusion that such changes create.
And it’s interesting to me; I’ve had many conversations about this with many men from this region, and many men are very proud of their daughters. And they’re proud of their daughters’ academic achievements and they’re proud of what their daughters are becoming. And so as men see their own daughters achieve these levels of accomplishment, I think that helps to put into perspective how best to open up doors within society for other men’s daughters. And that’s what I would hope to see.
MODERATOR: Absolutely. Madam Secretary, our evening is just beginning, but we’re going to return after the break.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: The status of the world’s women is not only a matter of morality and justice. It is also a political, economic, and social imperative. Put simply, the world cannot make lasting progress if women and girls in the 21st century are denied their rights and left behind.
MODERATOR: Mrs. Hillary, you were talking about women achievers in the Arab – in general. But in the Arab world, have you met some of them? What did they change in your mind?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, I have. I’ve met many of them. And I think that whether it’s the commitment to education that I’ve seen in the leadership of women from Jordan and Qatar, to the fight against violence against women that I’ve seen in Egypt, to the commitment to the new, very modern university in Saudi Arabia, to this university and so much that is happening here in the UAE and so many different places, I’ve met women who are leading the effort, who are very clearly speaking out in favor of what needs to be done within their societies.
And I’ve been impressed by how strong the women are, how gracious the women are, and how effective the women are. And it is, for me, a great – it’s a great lesson about how different women have different styles, just like men have different styles. And the impact of the women leaders whom I have met throughout this region, I think, has been both in private – and encouraging changes with their husbands, their fathers, their uncles, their brothers – and in public. So it’s a very impressive effort.
I also am impressed by the young women whom I’ve met. I had the opportunity to do town halls in Jeddah, in Manama and other places, and the young women have been extremely impressive. So just as I see young women in my own country standing up and speaking out in ways that, when I was their age, I did not see, I see the same here in this region.
MODERATOR: Madam Secretary, are you ready for the $6 million question?
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.) Do I win $6 million if I answer it? Of course.
MODERATOR: Do you think the American public is ready for a woman president, seeing that they have enjoyed the leadership of three secretaries of state who are women?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right. Well –
MODERATOR: Are they ready or not?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I tried – (laughter) – back in 2008 and had an extraordinary experience. I think that my country is. It’s just going to take a woman with very thick skin who will run for office and be successful. We have a political system in the United States which is extremely competitive and very difficult for men and women. But I think – certainly, I hope so in the near future to see a woman president, because as you say, we’ve had three women secretaries of state, starting with my friend Madeleine Albright and then, of course, Condoleezza Rice, and now I’m serving.
So we certainly have women representing my country at the highest levels. We had women – just the recently retiring speaker of the house, which is the third most important position in my government, is a woman. So we’ve had it all the way up to vice president and president. We will break through that glass ceiling. I’m not sure when, but we’ll get there, I hope, soon.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) in the political domain either in America or in some countries where women are not so effective?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, occasionally, I have. Well, lots of times, I laugh it off. Sometimes I confront it. But it is less common than it used to be. And yet there still are attitudes, even in my country, about a woman’s place, a woman’s role that – it’s a minority, but it’s sometimes, unfortunately, a vocal minority has. And yet it doesn’t represent the trends, the historic trends and the changes or the vast majority of people. So I really think that we’re getting to a point where we’ll see less and less of that going forward. But I wouldn’t sit here and tell you it’s not still an issue, and it certainly is around the world.
My biggest concerns are not with these incredibly bright young women here or with the three of you who have been so successful. It’s in countries where women and girls are so discriminated against, so brutalized, so mistreated, denied their basic rights. Those are the places that I worry most about. And I think all of us, as women who have our voices, need to speak out.
I went to the Democratic Republic of Congo a year ago summer and just the way that girls and women are treated there is just barbaric. And we have to stand up against that. And when I go to countries that don’t let girls be educated or are still marrying off girls of nine or ten, depriving them of an education, depriving them of an opportunity – that is what I’m most concerned about.
MODERATOR: If there is people like you, they are talking about us, talking, “One day, ladies will get the rights,” we shall assume.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I hope so.
MODERATOR: Dear audience, if you have another question also for Mrs. Hillary, please make it as short as you can because of the time.
SECRETARY CLINTON: We can’t hear you.
MODERATOR: Oh. Please use the mike.
QUESTION: It’s an honor for me and (inaudible) having you to be with us. And my question is: Hillary’s direction toward the currently position of political women in the Arab positions?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I really should ask all of you what you think that should be. Now, I know that as a Secretary of State, I see a lot of diplomats. I know that several countries in the region – Bahrain, Oman – have women ambassadors to the United States, that was quite – and parliament members and ministers here and elsewhere. And I know that more and more women are expressing an interest in serving their countries in these ways.
So I think that the opening has happened. It’s a question of making sure that women are well prepared, able to perform, because, to go back to your question, it’s not so much discrimination as a very high set of expectations. There’s an old story in my country that a man who is doing a mediocre job is not particularly noticeable, but a woman who is doing a mediocre job is, because she’s a woman and she is expected to perform at a much higher level. And the fact that she is doing whatever in the political arena somehow represents all women, and – which is not fair, but is still a commonly held opinion.
So I think that the changes that I’ve seen in this region are just the beginning, and I would expect to see even more in the years to come.
MODERATOR: A question – another question please?
SECRETARY CLINTON: This gentleman has the microphone right there.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, on behalf of Zayed University Student Council, I’d like to welcome you here.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
QUESTION: What advice do you have for young ladies such as the ones who are watching the show right now, or the young students who are going into politics? As a leader yourself, what advice do you have for them?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think the most important thing is what you’re doing right now – to get the best possible education you can get. The world is so complex that our leaders need to be very well informed about what is going on. For example, I am going later to see the results of the work that is being done here in the UAE, from Masdar Institute on renewable energy.
This is an incredibly important area. So you don’t have to be someone who is thinking about going into politics to make a contribution. If you’re an engineer who knows about environmental technology, if you’re an architect who can build into the exciting future what will be energy-saving homes, if you’re an expert in water and the work that is being done here in the UAE on water storage and desalinization – so yes, there are needs for people with expertise, and then there are needs for people who are well educated who know who to listen to, who know how to make decisions about some of the important issues of the future.
So I would strongly urge you to continue what you’re doing here to get the best possible education to be prepared for whatever the decisions that you would face as a leader or as a professional in some other walk of life.
MODERATOR: I’m sure there are many more questions. Don’t go away. We’ll come back after the break.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: It is also undeniable that the Palestinian people, Muslims and Christians, have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than 60 years, they’ve endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations, large and small, that come with occupation.
MODERATOR: Madam Secretary, a straight question needs a straight answer. Why could the U.S. of A not deliver?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, what you just heard President Obama say is the policy of our country and what I believe very strongly in pursuing. And as everyone knows, the United States is committed to a two-state solution. We are committed to a state for the Palestinian people and to security for the Israeli people. And we are pursuing that every single day.
But if this were a conflict that could be resolved by effort, it would have been resolved. Each side has to make decisions that are very difficult for them. My husband got very, very close back in 2000. And if he had been successful at that point, we would have had 10 years already of a Palestinian state. It is hard for both the Palestinians and the Israelis to have enough trust and confidence in the other to take the risks for peace. So part of what I am trying to do is to build up outside support for these tough decisions. The Arab Peace Initiative that His Majesty King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia put forth was an extraordinary document. And the more that the Arab world and the Middle East can say that the Arab Peace Initiative needs to be implemented and it will be stood behind, the more confidence that gives to the parties that this will be a broad and comprehensive peace. So we are working all the time, literally every day, to try to build that level of confidence for each side to go ahead and make a decision.
Now, two things have happened that I think are significant. First, the progress by the Palestinian Authority in building their state has been extremely impressive. The World Bank just last year issued a report which says that if the Palestinians stay on the track they’re on, they will be ready for statehood within two years. President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad need the support of the world in order to continue that state-building effort, because this is really hard work. But they are making progress against very difficult odds.
Secondly, the Israelis have a sense that when they left Lebanon, what they got was Hezbollah with 40,000 rockets aimed at them. And when they left Gaza, what they got was Hamas with 20,000 rockets aimed at them. So I ask people, and I know it’s very difficult at times to put yourself ever in the shoes of the other – I ask the Israelis to put themselves in the shoes of the Palestinians, I ask the Palestinians and Arabs to put themselves in the shoes of the Israelis. So the Israelis have to believe that when they leave the West Bank, which they must in order for the Palestinians to have their state, that they’re not going to be surrounded on all sides.
So as we think through how difficult this conflict is to resolve, there is, I would say, an essential role for outsiders – certainly, our country tries very hard to bring the parties together – but also the Arab world to make it clear that the Arab Peace Initiative will be implemented if the parties can meet the agreement that’s necessary on territory and on security and on refugees and on Jerusalem and all of the other issues that are dividing them.
So I am absolutely committed, as is President Obama, to doing everything we can. But the end of the day, the parties have to want to do this. I have said and written before that when my husband left office, some months later, then-President Arafat called Bill and said, “Okay, I’m ready to take the deal now.” And Bill said, “But I’m not president now.” So let’s seize this moment while we have President Obama, while we have progress on the state-building in the – by the Palestinians, while we do have an Israeli Government that will be able to deliver a peace if they can agree to the terms – let’s make sure we don’t let this moment pass so that in 10 years, somebody else gets a phone call and says, “Okay, now I’m ready.”
No, let’s get ready now and let’s deliver a two-state solution which will be an enormous step forward not just for Israelis and Palestinians, but for the entire region.
MODERATOR: But now, Madam Secretary, there is some warning of war – I mean, the whole area, which is going to be pulling in Hamas, Hezbollah, the Iranians, Israel, and all kinds of battles from all over the region. And this time, they’re not talking about skirmishes; they’re talking about a large-scale war and with many more casualties. How seriously should we take this warning?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that we should do everything we can to make sure that those warnings are not accurate. For example, I know you’re Lebanese. I am deeply worried about the effort to destabilize Lebanon. And I met recently with Prime Minister Hariri and I’ve also been working with the Saudis and the French and the Egyptians and others to try to make sure we stabilize Lebanon and prevent any outside interests or anyone within Lebanon who is getting direction from outside interests from taking steps that will destabilize Lebanon and perhaps provoke conflict.
I think it’s very important that we look at how disastrous such a war would be for everyone. And it still is a fact that there is no solution to the problems that beset the area through war. War will not resolve the longstanding concerns. Only intense negotiations to arrive at solutions such as exist between Israel and Egypt, Israel and Jordan – that is the only way forward that will build a lasting peace. So I would send a clear message that the responsible leadership in the region must do everything it can to prevent anyone from taking action that would launch such a conflict, because it would be a disaster. It would cause great suffering, it would cause more refugees, it would cause destruction, and we’d be right back where we are right now. And what good does that do anyone?
What bothers me most is I have been in refugee camps of Palestinians. I have been in many parts of this region over the last 20 years. I’ve met with many Palestinians, many Israelis. And when you talk with them and say, “What is it you want,” what they want is the same things. They want their children to grow up in peace. They want their children to have a better future. And that is what every – nearly every parent that I know of in the world wants. And we’ve got to get beyond the politics, we’ve got to get beyond the history, and create the circumstances that will maintain peace and will lead to an agreed negotiated outcome. So I’m aware of the drumbeats and I think that those unfortunately are being created for very cynical purposes.
Now, let’s just be very blunt here, because I like to be as clear as I can. I think that there is very little doubt that Iran does not want to see any kind of negotiated peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. For its own purposes, it wants to keep its attention off of what is the big concern for the future, which is a nuclear-armed Iran with weapons that threaten its neighbors and beyond. So if they can shift attention away from their own internal decisions about whether or not to pursue and produce nuclear weapons, they will be very happy about that. And we cannot let that attention get diverted and we cannot let any outside influence cause a conflict in the Middle East, which would be disastrous for everyone.
MODERATOR: Madam Secretary, we really (inaudible) Sudan as a country. What is the new or the next reshaping in our region, in this region?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m very pleased you mentioned Sudan because this could be a great example of a peaceful outcome of a longstanding conflict. I give credit to the government in Khartoum for having agreed in 2005 to let the people of the South vote on their own future. So that is what is happening; the voting started yesterday, it goes for the rest of this week. So far, it has been peaceful, and it hopefully will remain peaceful. If, as is expected, Southern Sudan votes to have its own country, then I hope we will all, in this broader region and certainly the United States will help – will do two things – it will help the people of South Sudan meet their very many needs. It’s a very poor place. It does not have a lot of infrastructure, it doesn’t have enough schools, it doesn’t have enough clinics or hospitals. So we have to help the people of South Sudan.
But I think we also have to work with and invest in the North in Sudan so that they see the benefits of having done a very courageous action, which is move from conflict to compromise, because that is the way the world should work. It’s very unlikely that any one person gets a hundred percent of whatever that person wants if you are negotiating peacefully. So let’s work to help both the government in Khartoum and the government in Juba deliver results for their people, and I think that could make this a very successful transition. Other than what’s happening in Sudan, I don’t see any other actions like that where countries are dividing unless they are forced to by outside forces.
And I would just mention briefly Iraq. Iraq now has an inclusive government, and I think that should be applauded by the region. It has a government that consists of the different sectors within Iraq. And it is a government that is going to try to put Iraq on a firm foundation and make sure that all the populations – Kurds, Sunni, Shia, minority groups, Christian, Muslim, everyone – has a safe home and can then go back to school, get freed of violence.
But al-Qaida is trying to disrupt that. They’ve been attacking government installations, they’ve been attacking Christian churches, and Christians have lived peacefully in Iraq for thousands of years. So again, the outside has to try to help Iraq be stable.
MODERATOR: We don’t know whether al-Qaida or some other people clearly in the background – but I want to go back to the question of Iran. There is a nuclear danger in the Middle East coming from this – and we cannot deny this. And the sanctions, the imposed sanctions on Iran, hasn’t really worked because the consensus is that Iran could have enriched uranium in – within a few months. If they want to have a nuclear weapon, they could. So what are the options that the U.S. is examining?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that the most recent analysis is that the sanctions have been working, they have made it much more difficult for Iran to pursue its nuclear ambition. Iran’s had technological problems that have made it slow down its timetables. So we do see some problems within Iran.
But the real question is how do we convince Iran that pursuing nuclear weapons will not make it safer and stronger, but just the opposite? I would ask you – I mean, those of you from countries here in the region – if Iran gets a nuclear weapon, won’t you believe that you have to have a nuclear weapon too? I mean, it will be an arms race that will be extremely dangerous. So it’s first and foremost in the interest of the region to persuade Iran not to pursue nuclear weapons.
Now, I have said, and I will repeat on this program, Iran, as a signer of the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, has both rights and obligations. One of its obligations is not to pursue nuclear weapons. One of its rights is to have access to peaceful nuclear energy. Iran is entitled to peaceful nuclear energy, but only under circumstances where it is absolutely clear that they do not use that to pursue nuclear weapons.
So there will be a meeting in Istanbul in about two weeks where the United States, China, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the European Union – we will all be meeting with Iran and continuing our discussion about what Iran is entitled to and what it is not, and to try to find a way forward. But the sanctions are working. Their program, from our best estimate, has been slowed down. So we have time, but not a lot of time.
MODERATOR: I’d like to answer you to your question. As much as we don’t want Iran to have a nuclear program, it’s the same one that we don’t want Israelis to have its nuclear program as well. So it’s a bad –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we do – we would like to see a nuclear-free Middle East. We would like to see that and we are committed to that. And in order to get there, we have to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, we have to resolve Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and I would hope part of President Obama’s goal of a nuclear weapons-free world, that we could make progress toward that.
MODERATOR: Madam Secretary, we still have more questions, and we have also our audience questions. But we will take a short break. Please watch us after this break.
MODERATOR: All right. Back from the break. Madam Secretary, The Economist has implied last week that America’s influence has somehow faded in the Arab area, and its influence has not – is not as strong as it was before. Would you like to comment on that?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I certainly don’t believe that. I think that our partnership with countries in the Middle East is even stronger than it has been. The work that we are doing with many of the countries is at a new level of involvement. And we have some very common aims. We are working together against terrorism, which has strengthened our relationship, because unfortunately, we face some common enemies. We are working together on areas like renewable energy and other important issues of the future.
We’re working together on education. The depth of involvement of the United States in education – to take the UAE, for example, with the NYU campus, the American University campus – you look at all the fellowships and other kinds of exchanges that we’re doing, it’s at a new level of intensity. We’re working together on women’s issues and their impact. And we are certainly in common cause to try to convince Iran not to pursue nuclear weapons. In fact, we are very encouraged by the efforts that have been made by the countries in the region to enforce the sanctions, to send a unified message to Iran that they will become more isolated, and there’s an easy out, which is not to pursue nuclear weapons and to not promote insurgencies and terrorism against their neighbors and against other countries. So I think that it is a – it’s a quality of involvement and partnership that is critically important to all of our countries.
Now, having said that, I would add that many of the countries themselves are playing a more active role and showing not just regional but global leadership on important issues. We welcome that. We encourage that. It’s often said that the United States cannot solve the problems of the world, but there’s not a problem in the world that can be solved without the United States. So we encourage our friends, partners, and allies to show the kind of leadership that we’re seeing here in the region, and we think that’s a win-win for all of us.
MODERATOR: I want to talk about WikiLeaks. Do you think that WikiLeaks has contributed to the decline of American influence in the world?
SECRETARY CLINTON: No. I think it’s been an unfortunate set of circumstances caused by the unauthorized theft of our private communications, which any country would be upset about, and I think we have every right to not only condemn it, but to prosecute those who stole that information.
But I have had many conversations with many leaders in this region and around the world, and most understand that this was something that was unforeseen and unfortunate. So I don’t think it will have lasting consequences. But I will certainly say that it was unfortunate and something that we regret.
MODERATOR: Mrs. Hillary, you know that scholarships in Saudi Arabia – for women especially is very important how – and it’s welcome from the host country, and they cost a lot for that. As you know, that there is some problems in the chaperone that should be with the female coming to States. What is your comment about that? Why they are having this problem just only in the States?
SECRETARY CLINTON: That is something that I’m going to have to look into because you’re the first person who has raised that with me. I don’t understand why there would be a problem, and I will do what I can to get to the bottom of that.
MODERATOR: The visa requirements for the lady, she should have her chaperone (inaudible). So almost they accept the lady, but they have some difficulties with him – his father or her husband or his son. So this is the problem that we are having.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I will look into that. Thank you for raising that.
MODERATOR: And now we have the audience questions. Please – who want to ask, to raise his hand, and please make it short as –
SECRETARY CLINTON: There’s a lady right there.
MODERATOR: There is a lady there, yes.
SECRETARY CLINTON: There’s one right there.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, I’m (inaudible) from Zayed University Alumni Association. We’re so honored to have you here with us today. My question for you is: If you were to run for presidency again, what would you do differently to increase your chances in succeeding?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m not going to run again. I’m very happy doing what I’m doing. But I think that it was a very hard-fought campaign, and I am very proud of how much was accomplished through my candidacy and the message that it sent to a lot of other women. But I have no regrets. I feel privileged to be doing what I’m doing now. It’s a long commitment. It’s about a year and a half of commitment to run for president. And it is a great way of seeing every part of my country, which I was very pleased to do.
But looking back on it, I’m very grateful I had a chance to do that. And as I said earlier, I hope that there will be a woman elected while I’m still around, because I would love to see it. (Laughter.) I’d love to be there.
QUESTION: Well, we’ll pray for you. You deserve that.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
MODERATOR: We’ll take a break and come back.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: The attack was September 11th, 2001, and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians has led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries, but also to human rights.
MODERATOR: As you said that it’s yet it’s not really – nations are not (inaudible) that they become angry, but when you rob people of their dignity, this is when the violence starts. What is your opinion?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think there are many reasons for violence. I think that that is certainly one of the reasons, but there are many other reasons. What President Obama and I believe is that those who are engaged in terrorist activities are really against the entire world. They are against the right of women to go to school. They are against the opportunities that are now available to both young men and women in so many of our societies. And they are most consistently killing and maiming Muslims, and that’s what is so distressing to me, is that they may have launched an attack on us on 9/11, which was horrible and cost nearly 3,000 lives, but in the years since, they have killed in so many other places.
It is deeply regrettable that they have safe haven anywhere, that any person, any person who cares about life, who cares about the future would give them any support whatsoever. Because they would turn the clock back on everything we’ve been talking. That’s what’s so distressing. It’s that they have a nihilistic view of what the world should be like.
I was telling the story earlier of a very courageous woman doctor in Somalia who is taking care of those who are sick and injured from all the fighting that’s been going on in Somalia, and she’s a widow, and she has two daughters who are doctors, her son was killed in a car accident. And she, every day, is trying to help people. And the young terrorists who are associated with al-Qaida’s philosophy came to her hospital and wanted to destroy the hospital, and she stood her ground and she said, “I am here healing people. What are you doing to help people?” And she had on her property tens of thousands of people who had nowhere else to live who were camping on her property. And she cares for them, she delivers their babies, she and her daughters work around the clock. And suddenly, a lot of women from these – from the camp came out and surrounded the hospital to protect it. But the young boys were shooting x-ray machines, they were destroying property. What does that have to do with anything? That’s not part of any religion. That is just destructive. That’s just the kind of behavior that is criticized everywhere in the world.
So I think it’s important for leaders – but not just leaders, for citizens – to stand up and say, “Does it matter whether you’re a Muslim, a Christian, a Hindu, a Jew, a Buddhist?” We are against that kind of destructive behavior. That is unacceptable in our society.
MODERATOR: Absolutely. Madam Secretary, every Arab believes that restoring the Palestinian rights would somehow enhance and better the American image in the Arab world, and also help drain their resistance. What would you say about that?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that’s why we’re committed, not because we think it would in any way help us, but we think it’s the right thing to do. We think it’s important to try to resolve this conflict. At the end of the day, the United States doesn’t make the decisions. You have two peoples that make the decisions, and we’re doing everything we can to convince them to reach a negotiated agreement.
The United States is now the biggest donor to the Palestinian people. We would like to see even more support for the Palestinians because we think they’re making so much progress. We obviously support the Israelis, because we know that if both the Israelis and the Palestinians do not believe that an agreement will be better for them, it won’t happen. So we have to persuade them to do that.
MODERATOR: Mrs. Hillary, all of us know that 9/11 was the turning point in the Arab-American relations. Why should all Arabs in all the world pay or be condemned because of a few people who are – how can we say it – extremists?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don’t think that is what the attitude is in America. I think sometimes our media plays up that attitude. But we’re very proud of the millions of Muslim Americans who work, live, study, contribute to our country. We’re very proud of those who are in elected office and are part of our leadership in our country. Now – but there will always be a small minority in any country that is loudmouthed and rude and ignorant that will say things that are just not either true or reflective of what we believe. And unfortunately, there’s often a TV camera that is going while those people are saying those things.
And so part of what I’m trying to do in programs like this is to say look beyond the media hype, look for the kind of person-to-person relationship that we are very proud of and that we have promoted. And although 9/11 was a very terrible tragedy for our country, in the years since, we have been working hard to build our partnerships and our relationships in the Arab world in particular. And of course, the excerpts of this speech that you’ve shown of President Obama in Cairo demonstrates clearly that this President and this Administration are determined to isolate the extremists and not to let the extremists color the view in any place.
Look, we have extremists in my country. A wonderful, incredibly brave young woman Congress member, Congresswoman Giffords, was just shot by an extremist in our country. We have the same kinds of problems. So rather than standing off from each other, we should work to try to prevent the extremists anywhere from being able to commit violence to interfere with the rights of girls to go to school, of taking actions that would shut down a hospital run by a brave woman doctor.
That’s what the world needs to hear. The extremists and their voices, the crazy voices that sometimes get on the TV, that’s not who we are, that’s not who you are. And what we have to do is get through that and make it clear that that doesn’t represent either American or Arab ideas or opinions.
MODERATOR: Right. Because of that, we should love each other, and watch us after the break.
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.)
(Break, music played.)
MODERATOR: Is this the saxophone of your husband?
SECRETARY CLINTON: It could be.
MODERATOR: Oh, no. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: I would love it if it were.
MODERATOR: Tell us about it, please.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, he –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, yes, but we’re not going to go into that now.
MODERATOR: Yes, we are. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, one thing – he actually was a good saxophone player when he was younger, but he didn’t get to practice enough as he got older and got into politics. So we have a little room in our house where he keeps all of his music and all of his instruments, and he keeps being asked to play in public again, but he keeps saying he has to practice more until he does. But I hope he will sometime. He has a great love of music. He is a real – not – I wouldn’t say expert, but he’s very, very knowledgeable about music.
MODERATOR: And I read some time ago, how you met Bill Clinton –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
MODERATOR: — when you were at university.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
MODERATOR: I’m sure a lot of our women audience would love to hear the story.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we were both at law school at Yale University. And my husband is a year older than I am, but he had been a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, so he had gone from college, Georgetown University, to Oxford for two years, and then came to Yale Law School.
So I was actually a year ahead of him and I didn’t know him because he had just gotten there. And I was walking from one class to another class and I was going through what we call the lounge area, where they had the vending machines for soft drinks and candy and things that you shouldn’t eat but you do when you’re studying for exams. And I heard this voice in this southern accent say, “Not only that, we grow the biggest watermelons in the world.” And I said to the – my friend who was with me, I said, “Who’s that?” And she said, “Well, that’s Bill Clinton, and he’s from Arkansas and that’s all he ever talks about.” (Laughter.)
And so Arkansas – you look at a map of the United States, it’s a small state on the Mississippi River between Texas and Missouri and Oklahoma. And I had never been to Arkansas. I had been born in Chicago and then had gone to Wellesley College, which is a woman’s college outside of Boston.
So I saw him around the campus, but I hadn’t been introduced to him. But I saw him watching me all the time and – (laughter) – yes. And it was a little disconcerting because I think he’s incredibly handsome – still do, did then – and so finally, I went up to him and I said, “Well, if you’re going to keep looking at me and I’m going to keep looking back, then we should at least be introduced.”
MODERATOR: Hey, hey, gutsy, isn’t it?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I thought so.
MODERATOR: Yeah. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: And so shortly after that, we began to date, and we both ended up teaching at the Law School in Arkansas, getting married in Arkansas, and –
MODERATOR: And the rest is history, as we know it.
SECRETARY CLINTON: — the rest is history, as they say. That’s right.
MODERATOR: Exactly. You are a tough lady in every domain. Are you tough on your son-in-law as well?
SECRETARY CLINTON: No. (Laughter.) Because he’s perfect.
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, we’re – we are extremely, extremely happy. My daughter and her husband have actually known each other for 15 years. They met as children at an event that our families were attending together. And they were friends before they were boyfriend/girlfriend. And they really got to know each other very well and then realized that they enjoyed each other’s company so much, enjoyed talking about everything under the sun. So I am just very pleased. They’re extremely happy, and they live nearby, which is good.
MODERATOR: Just lovely. And now they are making history –
SECRETARY CLINTON: So – yes.
MODERATOR: — which is fantastic. Madam Secretary, it has been an honor and a privilege to meet you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
MODERATOR: And this was a lovely, lovely evening –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
MODERATOR: — spent chatting with you. And I would hope that you would consider this your second home.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much.
MODERATOR: Because you’re always welcome. Thank you. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you very, very much. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: Good night. (Applause.)
This September will mark the two-year anniversary of U.S. membership on the United Nations Human Rights Council. U.S. engagement at the Council has led to a number of new mechanisms to spotlight and address serious human rights concerns and focused international attention to some of the world’s most egregious human rights abusers. Much work remains before the Council can fully realize its mandate as the international community’s focal point for the protection and promotion of human rights. The United States will continue to work hard to diminish the Council’s biased disproportionate focus on Israel. The United States maintains a vocal, principled stand against this focus, and will continue its robust efforts to end it.
Key accomplishments over the past two years include:
DEEPENING ENGAGEMENT IN COUNTRY SITUATIONS
Iran: The Council took bold, assertive action to highlight Iran’s deteriorating human rights situation by establishing a Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in Iran. The rapporteur will investigate and report on abuses in Iran and call out the failure of the Iranian government to meet its human rights obligations.
Cote d’Ivoire: U.S. leadership led to a Special Session on the situation in Cote d’Ivoire, sending Laurent Gbagbo a clear message that the world is watching what he does and that atrocities and human rights violations would not go unnoticed. At its most recent session, the Council established a Commission of Inquiry to investigate these abuses and amplified the international community’s unequivocal message that President Ouattara must be allowed to serve as the elected head of state.
Libya: The United States played a pivotal role in convening the Council’s Special Session in February 2011 during which the Council condemned the recent human rights violations and other acts of violence committed by the Government of Libya, created an independent Commission of Inquiry to investigate those violations, and recommended to the UN General Assembly that it suspend Libya’s membership rights on the Council. The UN General Assembly acted on that recommendation several days later.
Kyrgyzstan: The United States worked with Kyrgyzstan to draft and galvanize support for the first-ever resolution to address human rights violations there in the wake of the killings and abuses that took place in June 2010. It called for a credible investigation by the Government and international assistance for victims and requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide follow-up reporting. The resolution paved the way for a Commission of Inquiry to investigate these events.
Guinea: The United States led the Council to adopt several resolutions on Guinea. The Council condemned the September 2009 violence, welcomed the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ decision to open a country office, and requested technical assistance from the international community for the transition to democracy, which produced concrete results on the ground.
Tunisia: The United States worked with the EU and the interim government of Tunisia to adopt a resolution that welcomed the process of political transition that has started in Tunisia, invited the UN to provide technical assistance to the transitional process in Tunisia, and encouraged the government of Tunisia to implement recommendations of the High Commissioner from its report on its mission earlier this year.
Burma: The United States has worked to ensure the continuation of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burma. The Special Rapporteur plays a critical role in reporting on the ongoing human rights abuses in Burma, including calling for a commission of inquiry into the situation.
North Korea: The United States has worked to ensure the continuation of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in North Korea. While the government of North Korea strongly opposes this mandate, the number of votes in favor of the resolution increased this year, demonstrating the level of international concern with the situation there.
Sudan: The United States led efforts to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert tasked with monitoring human rights throughout Sudan, including Darfur, over the Sudanese government’s strong opposition.
INITIATING CONCRETE ACTION TO DRIVE HUMAN RIGHTS PRIORITIES
Protecting Freedom of Assembly and Association: The U.S. Government co-sponsored a resolution to create the first-ever Special Rapporteur to protect Freedom of Assembly and Association, to monitor crackdowns on civil society groups and advance protection of the right to free assembly and association through its vigilant exposure of state conduct.
Combating Discrimination Against Women: The United States championed the establishment of a Working Group of Independent Experts to prevent Discrimination Against Women; the five independent experts will address discrimination against women in law and practice. One of the experts is the first Israeli citizen to be appointed by the Human Rights Council President to a special mechanism.
A Strong Statement on LGBT Rights: The United States led a group of 85 countries to sign a statement entitled “Ending Acts of Violence and Related Human Rights Violations Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.” It represents a landmark moment in UN efforts to highlight human rights abuses faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people around the world.
DEFENDING CORE PRINCIPLES
Protecting Freedom of Expression in the Context of Religious Intolerance: The United States was instrumental in galvanizing support for a consensus resolution that marks a sea change in the global dialogue on countering offensive and hateful speech based upon religion or belief. The “Combating Discrimination and Violence” resolution underscores the vital importance of protecting freedom of expression and ends the divisive debate over the highly problematic concept of “defamation of religions.”
Secretary Clinton: Women Senators’ Resolution Calling for Renewed Focus on Women’s Rights in North Africa and the Middle East
I thank Senator Snowe and all the women Senators for shining a spotlight on the critical role women continue to play in the dramatic events sweeping North Africa and the Middle East. I fully agree that women must be included in every aspect of political and institutional reform, because we know that no government can succeed if half its population is excluded from the process. This resolution underscores our current efforts to build capacity for good governance, allow all citizens to participate, and ensure that the human rights of all, including those of women, are respected. The U.S. State Department will continue to work with Congress as we together stand in support of the women in the region who are demanding that their voices be heard.
Secretary Clinton marked the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day with an op-ed published by the Bloomberg News Wire. The full text of the Secretary’s op-ed follows:
Women’s Work-More, Earn-Less Plan Hurts
By Hillary Rodham Clinton
One of the biggest growth markets in the world may surprise you. You’ve heard about the opportunities opening up in countries like China, regions like Asia and industries like green technology. But one major emerging market hasn’t received the attention it deserves: women.
Today, there are more than 200 million women entrepreneurs worldwide. Women earn more than $10 trillion every year, which is expected to grow by $5 trillion over the next several years. In many developing countries, women’s incomes are growing faster than men’s.
Facts such as these should persuade governments and business leaders worldwide to see investing in women as a strategy for job creation and economic growth. Many are doing so. Yet the pool of talented women is underutilized, underpaid and underrepresented in business and society.
Throughout the world, women do two-thirds of the work, yet they earn just one-third of the income and own less than 2 percent of the land. Three billion people don’t have access to basic financial services we take for granted, like bank accounts and lines of credit; the majority of them are women.
Certainly we are seeing the impact of excluding women in the Middle East, where the lack of their access to education and business has hampered economic development and helped lead to social unrest.
If we invest in women’s education and give them the opportunity to access credit or start a small business, we add fuel to a powerful engine for progress for women, their families, their communities and their countries. Women invest 80 percent of their incomes on their families and in their communities.
When women have equal access to education and health care and the freedom to start businesses, the economic, political and social benefits ripple out far beyond their own home.
At the State Department, we are supporting women worldwide as a critical element of U.S. foreign policy. We are incorporating women’s entrepreneurship into our international economic agenda and promoting women’s access to markets through the African Growth and Opportunity Act, the Pathways to Prosperity Initiative and women’s entrepreneurship conferences.
The U.S. is hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum 2011 to help foster growth and increase opportunities for women throughout the region. We are working with the private sector to provide grants to local non-governmental organizations around the world that are dedicated to women and girls.
Closing the Gap
We are encouraging governments and the private sector to use the tools at their disposal to provide credit, banking and insurance services to more women. Through our mWomen initiative, we will begin to close the gender gap in access to mobile technology, which will improve health care, literacy, education and economic potential.
This is a central focus of my diplomatic outreach. Wherever I go around the world, I meet with governments, international organizations and civic groups to talk about economic policies that will help their countries grow by expanding women’s access to jobs and finance.
Many powerful U.S. businesses have embraced this mission as their own. ExxonMobil Corp. is training women entrepreneurs to help them advocate for policies to create more opportunities. Coca-Cola Co. has issued an ambitious challenge in its “5 by 20” program to empower and train 5 million new women entrepreneurs across the globe by 2020.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. started the “10,000 Women” initiative to open the door for women who would not otherwise have access to a business education. Ernst & Young is tapping into the productive potential of women with its “Winning Women” program to help female entrepreneurs learn growth strategies from some of the most successful leaders in the U.S. Companies all over the world are committed to increasing productivity, driving economic growth and harnessing the power of emerging markets through greater diversity.
As Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank said, “gender equality is smart economics.”
Governments are passing laws that support women’s economic empowerment and building awareness of women’s rights. Botswana lifted restrictions on the industries in which women can work, for example. Morocco now allows women to start businesses and get jobs without their husbands’ approval. Bolivia began a land titling effort to recognize that women and men have equal rights to own property.
This week, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. It’s an occasion for honoring the achievements of women. Without question, the past century has brought astonishing progress, by just about every measure, in women’s health, their economic opportunities, their political power and more. Today, women are leaders in every field.
Acting on Ideas
Never in history have there been so many forces working together for gender equity.
But International Women’s Day is also an occasion for recognizing how much more needs to be done to support women and girls worldwide. I encourage everyone reading this to reflect on what you and your friends can do to support women — to put words and ideas into action.
If we decide — as societies, governments and businesses — to invest in women and girls, we will strengthen our efforts to fight poverty, drive development and spread stability. When women thrive, families, communities and countries thrive — and the world becomes more peaceful and prosperous.
QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, thank you very much for spending some time with us. I want to start with this idea of reintegration and reconciliation in Afghanistan. President Karzai today, in fact, said that he believes that the insurgents will definitely be invited to the peace talks. What do you think about that idea?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, in general, Jill, you don’t make peace with your friends; you make peace with your enemies. And I think what President Karzai is trying to do is to send some very clear messages. Number one, if you are one of the many, many Taliban members who is there because it’s a living, you actually are making money by being in this fight, or you were, in effect, drafted through intimidation of some sort, come off the battlefield and reintegrate into society. If you are a mid-level leader of the Taliban, not ideologically committed to their world view, then you too can rejoin society. However, there are very clear conditions: You must renounce violence, you must lay down your arms, you must renounce al-Qaida, and you must be willing to live by the laws and the constitution of Afghanistan.
So I think that this is the way peace usually gets made. You send out feelers. You see who’s willing to lay down their arms and abide by the conditions. You see how far up that will go. I do not expect Mullah Omar and those people to be at all interested in this. In fact, they’ve made it very clear that they’re not. But I think there are many members of the Taliban who will see this chance to reenter society under these very stringent conditions to be attractive enough to test.
I also think it’s clear that our commanders on the field, General McChrystal and his team, who are in the fight and reversing the momentum of the Taliban, they know, as we learned in Iraq, there is an opportunity to try to convince the insurgents to quit the fight and come back. And that’s part of this peace effort.
QUESTION: You mentioned Iraq. And in fact, the Sunni Awakening was what happened in Iraq. The United States was very actively involved in Iraq in that movement. In Afghanistan, what would be the role of the U.S., briefly? And especially when we get into the financial side of it, there’s going to be a fund, an international fund. Can the U.S. actually contribute money to that? Because after all, there are Treasury regulations that seem to preclude that.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, just as we did in Iraq, the United States military will have funds available for these battlefield decisions. And all of the rules and regulations will be abided by, of course. But what our commanders tell us is that it is extremely useful when somebody shows up and says to a young lieutenant or captain, “I’d like to quit, I want to go home, I want to plant in my fields,” that happens a lot. And so to be able to say okay, and here’s what you’ll get if you meet our conditions and you go forward as a member of society – so we want to equip our military.
Now, on the civilian side, a number of countries today made commitments to what is being called the reintegration fund. And that will be a means also to make sure that the people who are now making more money as a Taliban fighter than they made as a farmer or doing something else within Afghan society will be able to support their families and contribute. I mean, that’s the way this works. We’ve learned a lot and we know much more today than we did five or six years ago in Iraq. And I have the greatest confidence in General McChrystal and his team to know how to pull this off.
QUESTION: But can the U.S. actually contribute to that fund without getting some type of a waiver?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, yeah. All the rules have to be abided by, yes.
QUESTION: Okay. Now, when you get into reconciliation, that would deal with the leadership, more important members. Five former leaders, in fact, have been delisted – as they say, taken off the UN list of suspected terrorists. Could they be part of the government?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, actually, one of the people who was on the list has already renounced the Taliban and has actually joined the government. So we’re kind of playing catch-up here, that the list has names of people who are irreconcilable – that is clear. The list also has at least one name we’re aware of, of someone who has already died. But there are people on that list who everyone believes, including the gentleman who has already met the conditions, who should be taken off the list and given a chance to be reintegrated.
QUESTION: But the irreconcilables – what if the government, the Afghan Government, actually did want to deal ultimately with Mullah Omar, thinking that perhaps he could bring them Osama bin Laden or something like that? What could the U.S. do in that case?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, the U.S. is a partner with the Afghan Government. So we are going to be closely consulting on the structure of the fund, the standards for the fund. I had a long meeting with President Karzai last night and we went over many of these matters that are going to have to be addressed. It is the kind of situation that, by the very nature of it, is going to be somewhat fluid because we don’t know what’s going to happen, who will come forward.
But based on our experience in many areas of Afghanistan today, the Taliban is extremely unpopular. There was a recent poll that has a lot of credibility, pointing out that most people in Afghanistan now believe that they can have a better future, they do not want the Taliban back. But they’re scared and they are looking for some support. And one of the ways, as we saw in an article in The New York Times, I think it was today, is that the military is going in and not just talking to individuals, but talking to tribes, talking to villages. This is classic counterinsurgency, and everyone knows that, as General McChrystal has said, you’re never going to kill or capture everybody calling themself a Taliban. But you can change the political environment so that those who continue to call themselves Taliban become more and more isolated, and that’s what we’re seeking.
QUESTION: Let’s talk about women, because in – this is a subject that’s very dear to your heart, it’s very important.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: We know the traditional approach that the Taliban have taken to women. So if you bring these people in, isn’t it ultimately a deal with the devil?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, not if they abide by the conditions, which they have to in order to be eligible. They have to abide by the constitution and the laws of Afghanistan. That means girls are entitled to go to school, girls and women are entitled to get healthcare. Girls are given the same rights that they should have to be trained. Women have the right to participate in the government. In fact, the new Karzai government has some very prominent women nominated for ministers.
So I think that that’s a concern that some people have raised, but I don’t think that it, in and of itself, is what will impact women’s future. We have to change mindsets. There are very serious continuing problems for many women in Afghanistan that still need to be addressed. And women are just like the men of Afghanistan; they don’t want to see the Taliban come back, obviously, but they still have to be given the opportunities to participate in society.
But a lot of progress has been made. I just was meeting with one of the Afghan women who was presenting at the conference, and she said we want to protect women’s rights, we want to continue to get what we deserve to have, we don’t want anything done in the name of peace to interfere with that. And I said neither do I. And I made that very clear in what I said publicly and privately at this conference.
QUESTION: Now, on Iran, to change the subject here, Iran did not send a representative to this conference on Afghanistan. What do you read into that?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m not sure yet, because the foreign secretary here in London had told me that he expected Iran to send a representative. There was a name plate for Iran. It may, Jill, be another example of the uncertainty, confusion, division within the existing Iranian leadership. On many issues, it appears that they aren’t quite sure the way forward because the leadership is being challenged and there are lots of forces at work within the society. But I don’t know any more than that.
QUESTION: So we understand that you have at least an outline of sanctions that you want to impose or – on – we understand that you have at least an outline of sanctions that you want to impose on Iran. How quickly will we see those?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I was meeting all day today not only about Afghanistan, but also about Iran, with many countries. I brought with me two of the experts who are working on the design of the sanctions and the enforcement of the sanctions, and we are beginning to share ideas. It is premature to talk about those because I don’t want to preempt the consideration that other countries will be given to this, but it is very much our agenda to move forward.
We want as much support as we can possibly muster, and we want to be sure that we are aiming at the mindset of the Iranians so that they understand that the international community will not be turning a blind eye to their continuing violations of Security Council obligations of International Atomic Energy Agency regulations. But it is premature to talk in specifics.
QUESTION: You have said that the sanctions are basically aimed at the Revolutionary Guard. The Revolutionary Guard, of course, control key elements of the Iranian economy. So in hitting them, how do you avoid hurting the Iranian people?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, they have a lot of business interests, as we have discovered. And our assessment is that the sanctions will be tough and clearly aimed at the Iranian economy, but that the international community does not have a choice, that this is, unfortunately, a situation in which the behavior of the Iranian Government, not just in this instance but what they’re doing to protestors and demonstrators. I mean, one of the foreign ministers from a Muslim country told me with just total bewilderment, he said, “How can they have a death penalty to demonstrate?” I mean, that’s basically what they’ve come to.
So their society is under a lot of stress. We think it’s imperative to change the calculus of the leadership, and we think this is an appropriate way to proceed, so we are pursuing it.
QUESTION: But could that be a way – if you make it difficult for the people, could the aim ultimately be to get the people angry at their own government and, hence, have some type of regime change?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, this is not meant to punish Iran; it’s meant to change their behavior, and it’s not meant as a target at any one person. It’s meant to change the calculation of the leadership, where – whether that leadership is in the supreme leader’s office or in the Revolutionary Guard or the president or anyone else. And I think that it’s hard to sit here and predict exactly how Iran will respond, because we still are open to the diplomatic track, but we haven’t seen much to really prove that they’re willing to engage with us.
And I think the time has come for the international community to say, no, we cannot permit your continued pursuit of nuclear weapons. It is destabilizing, it is dangerous, and we’re going to take a stand against you.
QUESTION: But you seem to be changing – the United States seems to be changing the focus, at least broadening it. Originally, of course, it’s about the nuclear program; however, there seems to be now a desire to punish the people who are responsible for repression.
SECRETARY CLINTON: No.
QUESTION: Isn’t that a broadening of –
SECRETARY CLINTON: No. I mean, if – for example, if the leadership had accepted the offer that we made on the Tehran research reactor to ship out their low-enriched uranium, we would not be sitting here talking about sanctions. It was their choice. They chose not to. And I think that the Iranian people are at a crossroads. They have the opportunity to demand more from their own leadership, which has, obviously, from the outside, appeared to have failed the Iranian people and failed the very principles that they claim to govern by. So the voices of protest, the voices of opposition, are going to continue to challenge this regime in Iran.
But the outside world is not involved in that. This is an internal societal matter for Iranians to decide. What the outside world is concerned about is their nuclear program. Absent a nuclear program, we would still be expressing our regrets and our condemnation of their behavior toward their citizens, but we would not be looking for sanctions. We are looking for sanctions because their nuclear ambitions threaten the rest of the world.
QUESTION: Well, Madam Secretary, thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, good to talk to you.
Interview Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State
Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues
International Women of Courage Awardees: Eva Abu Haalaweh and Ghulam Sughra
QUESTION: So before we talk about the individual stories, I wanted to ask sort of more broadly about what’s happening, because you alluded to this today, in Egypt that there are so many women out in the streets but nobody rewriting the constitution. So what is the U.S. doing to encourage the Egyptian Government to include women, to listen to women?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think it’s our role to support Egyptian women who are speaking up for themselves. And we certainly try to ensure that their concerns are heard by the new Egyptian Government, because it would be a shame with all of the extraordinary change that’s going on in Egypt if women were somehow not given their opportunity to be part of bringing about the new Egypt.
Women, like men, have the full range of political opinions. I mean, women go from one end of the political spectrum to another, just like men. So we don’t argue for any particular group of Egyptian women; we just want to see that Egyptian women’s voices, especially of their lawyers, their professors, their judges, their business leaders, just so many accomplished women, are part of the decision making.
QUESTION: And do you talk about that, though, when you pick up the phone and talk with the foreign minister or whoever the latest foreign minister is? (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: I do, because I – and I think it’s important that we always raise it because we think it will make a better outcome. We don’t want to see Egypt or Tunisia or anyplace eliminate half the population when they think about the future. That would make no sense at all.
QUESTION: One of the things that’s happening, I mean, as you have to sort of rethink strategy in the Middle East is you have groups – political Islam sort of becomes a reality. In Tunisia, they’re worried that women’s rights were very strong under Ben Ali. So how do you recalibrate U.S. foreign policy keeping in mind women’s issues?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I don’t see a contradiction. I think that women are playing a major role in so many countries across the world today that didn’t have a chance to in the past. Pakistan had a woman prime minister, who very tragically was killed, but she was very brave in standing up for women and women’s role in the world. India has had a woman prime minister. Bangladesh currently has a woman prime minister. You go from country to country to country and each country is different, but in the 21st century there’s no doubt in my mind that there should be no excuses about using women’s talents and educating girls and making sure that they have access to the same opportunities as their brothers.
QUESTION: I want to ask about Jordan specifically because that’s a country that you’re coming from. What role are women playing in the transitions there, and do you feel the support from the U.S.?
MS. HALAWEH: In fact, in Jordan, the King is leading the reform. He is the person who started talking about (inaudible) ago. And also (inaudible) also they are working with us to do difference on women’s rights, especially work against discrimination and to protect victims of domestic violence. Now, we did add on, of course, and they (inaudible) in the Jordanian community. And part of this, part of the (inaudible) is talking about (inaudible). It’s also part of the response we want, more women’s participation, more – also a compact (inaudible) all kinds of (inaudible), all kinds of discrimination against women (inaudible).
QUESTION: What was your message to the Secretary about U.S. policy? Because she has to think about the new realities in the Middle East. I mean, you’re – as a woman, as a Jordanian, as a Palestinian.
MS. HALAWEH: In fact, I (inaudible) – I mean, the courage woman in Palestine, they really need her support. We are looking for a change and toward more courage towards the Palestinian issue. We (inaudible) two weeks ago for the – using the veto and for conducting (inaudible) the settlements. But (inaudible) humanitarian sense that (inaudible) watch what’s happening now in Palestine and that (inaudible) will be a change I believe on (inaudible) humanitarian sense.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, I also want to ask you about – because I know we don’t have that much time – about Afghanistan and Pakistan because there was just this report out about the U.S. aid clause that’s been dropped for requirements for gender equality. Why was that dropped, and are you worried about – are you backing off from these demands in Afghanistan?
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, we’re not backing off at all. And Melanne may want to answer that specifically, but what we’re trying to do is be effective. We want to get the results so that it’s not just a rhetorical claim that we can point to, but actual results on the ground. Melanne, you might want to add to that.
AMBASSADOR VERVEER: Well, the specific issue that was raised was in a USAID program that was directed at land rights, and there were some changes made as that program was being implemented. But I think the real misunderstanding that came out of that was a sense that the United States was reevaluating its (inaudible) policy in Afghanistan vis-à-vis Afghan women. And that couldn’t be farther from the truth. It is very much central to our stabilization program there. We’ve got extraordinary investments in education, in health, particularly ameliorating and decreasing maternal mortality, which is the second worst problem in the world in Afghanistan; strong investments in women’s economic participation; and the Secretary has been an extraordinary leader on women’s political participation. Obviously, there are many more women in the parliament, but the big issue today is so-called reintegration and reconciliation and whither goest the women in the peace process.
And in that situation, from their participation in the peace jirga to very strong statements and leadership that she has underscored repeatedly about the red line in all of this, which is that any reintegration take place by renouncing violence, renouncing al-Qaida, and strongly supporting the Afghan constitution, which has women’s rights chiseled into it. And that means the right to go to school. It means the right to work.
So women’s participation, as has so often been articulated by the Secretary in particular and others as we engage in Afghanistan, is that any potential for peace – and women want an end to the conflict more than anybody, but any potential for peace will be subverted if women’s voices are marginalized or silenced. And (inaudible) our effort is very central to what we’re doing there because the prospect for peace won’t succeed without it.
QUESTION: And you’ve talked recently about a diplomatic surge. So there’s that –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right, right.
QUESTION: I mean, is that something that –
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s exactly what we are doing. We’ve had certainly a surge in military activity and forces. We’ve had a surge in civilian personnel. But what I’m focused on now is what I call the third surge, which is the diplomatic and political, searching for ways that we can end the conflict in Afghanistan, work with Pakistan to help stabilize Pakistan against the threat it faces from extremists.
So there’s a lot that we have to work on, but I want to reinforce the message from Melanne, and that is I personally – this Administration is absolutely committed to doing everything we can to support the women of Afghanistan and Pakistan, because we believe that you will have greater stability and greater security if women are included. If women are educated, if women have a chance to have their voices heard, if they are respected, that will eventually result in a much more stable society.
QUESTION: The U.S. pours a lot of aid into Pakistan, so are there those sorts of requirements in U.S. aid?
SECRETARY CLINTON: We do everything we can to try to work to focus on women and girls. It’s not the only thing that we do. We do a lot of security aid which goes primarily to the military or to the police force or to other elements of the security structure in both countries. But when it comes to our civilian aid, we believe that improving education, improving healthcare, improving agriculture, improving governance and the rule of law, is all about improving the lives of girls and women.
QUESTION: So I wanted to ask you then if you feel that support, because the relationship with Pakistan is so complex, there’s so many different issues, whether you feel that support from the United States.
MS. SUGHRA: I told already I can’t do anything in Pakistan without support and help, so we are working for women issues (inaudible) little bit, not much more. And Pakistan many issues by the women, they don’t get education, there is no facility for help, there is no facility in the village and the desert areas. The women is like (inaudible). So there is male-dominated society in Pakistan. Males dominate and their violence on the woman and different violence in the home.
So I want the support from the State Department and the popular ladies, so I want that support. And I am very happy I work in Pakistan but give me respect (inaudible) in USA. So there is many problem for me, why you go to the village, why you empower the women, why you work in – for the women? So here is very support and very kind people, and I am very happy. I want the support in Pakistan from USA.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that’s a really important point, because the work that she does or the other women do is often very lonely work, very isolating work. Sometimes your family doesn’t understand, the people that you grew up with, live with, don’t understand. They keep asking why aren’t you happy the way things are? Why do you want to try to change things?
And it can be a very unhappy experience trying to change things to help people. And I think part of what we’ve tried to do over the last two years, and then for many years before that, is to make it very clear that the United States, either through our government or through individuals or through our charities, we will try to help those who are standing up for human rights and women’s rights against great odds.
To start a school in her village in Pakistan was an act of such enormous bravery, because most of the people didn’t see any reason why girls should go to school. And it seems like in some respects an obvious sort of thing – of course girls should go to school – but she has to fight for that every single day. And so we want to help her.
But what we would really like is to see changes in attitude in Pakistan so that the people in Pakistan would help her do what she’s trying to do to make Pakistan better.
QUESTION: Okay, I’ve been told I’m out of time, but if you could just real briefly – she brought up the question of doing something on Palestine. I mean, should we be expecting any big new surge on this front?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we hope so because we believe strongly that the Palestinian people deserve their own state and they deserve a state that can provide economic opportunity and security and democracy. And I am very supportive of what is going on in the Palestinian authority because they’re proving that they can build a state. And now I want to see the political changes that are necessary so that there can be two states living side by side. And I’m not saying anything that I haven’t said to the Israelis and the Palestinians many times. It is now more than ever the opportunity to resolve this conflict, because people deserve, if you’re in Israel, to live in security, and if you’re a Palestinian, to live in your own state. And the only way that will happen is if there is an agreement between the two. And we are pushing every single day for that.
QUESTION: Is Netanyahu coming here with a plan?
SECRETARY CLINTON: We are looking for a lot of action on the part of the leadership in both – on both sides.
QUESTION: Thank you very much for your time.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.