Secretary Madeleine Albright on Her Legacy as a Women’s Rights Champion: ‘I Decided I Would Make Women’s Issues Central to American Foreign Policy’


“I do know that when ladies are politically and economically empowered in societies, the state of affairs is healthier. And it’s in America’s nationwide curiosity.”

Madeleine Albright, the primary girl U.S. secretary of state, died of cancer on Wednesday, Mar. 23. She was 84 years outdated. She served many roles within the govt department all through her storied profession, together with President Invoice Clinton’s ambassador to the United Nations and later his secretary of state.

In September of 2020, the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security hosted a particular digital commemoration of the twenty fifth anniversary of the U.N. Fourth World Convention in Beijing to replicate on the progress since 1995, the challenges that stay, and promising methods ahead to proceed advancing ladies’s rights and gender equality. In conversation with Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton and Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Secretary Madeleine Albright mirrored on her function as the US’ first feminine ambassador to the U.N. and her legacy as a ladies’s rights champion,

As a tribute, we compiled a few of her greatest remarks about her work as a ladies’s rights champion.

G7: Ladies Ambassadors on the U.N.

Once I obtained to the U.N., which was in February 1993, I requested my assistant to ask the opposite ladies ambassadors [to lunch]. At the moment there have been 183 international locations within the UN. However then I get to my house and so they’re solely six different ladies there: Canada, Philippines, Kazakhstan, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Liechtenstein.

And me being the American, I made a decision I needed to type a caucus; we known as ourselves the G7. And what we did was to foyer on behalf of girls’s points—to ensure that rape was seen as a weapon of conflict, for instance. There was a brand new conflict crimes tribunal that had been put collectively to take care of points within the former Yugoslavia, and we had been there to ensure there have been ladies judges.

Additionally, continually [at the U.N.], I might speak concerning the significance of getting a bigger agenda for the best way to take care of ladies’s points internationally.

Ladies’s Rights Are Human Rights

I used to be delighted when it was clear that we had been going to the U.N. Fourth World Convention on Ladies. … I believe there’s some crazy stories about our arrival in China, most of which had been true, like that cab drivers got sheets to place over the bare ladies they had been anticipating. However what was completely important was that we had been there, collaborating actively.

One of many issues that I did [during my speech] was to put out what we anticipated our authorities to do to satisfy the pledges that had been going to return out of this [conference]. It was not about conversations; it was about commitments. And so I actually went by means of what every division of presidency was going to do in the US. And I believe that it was an essential speech, obtained quietly.

Really essentially the most excellent factor was Hillary’s speech: “Ladies’s rights are human rights and human rights are ladies’s rights.” And I’ve not often seen, over so a few years, a single message carry such essential which means and have such a sturdy life. And it is because of you, Hillary, and it’s as a result of sorts of issues that Melanne is doing by means of her Georgetown Institute for Ladies, Peace and Safety, after which additionally as a result of dedication of so many ladies to the messages that we had been delivering. They resonated and so they proceed to take action.

Advancing Ladies’s Rights

I’ve to say I like the linkage among the many three of us right here, as a result of one of many issues that occurred after we got here again from Beijing was the institution of a White Home Council on Ladies. After which attempting to watch how our authorities was fulfilling the varied points of it.

As soon as I grew to become secretary of state, (and I’ve to say that’s due to Hillary, and the explanation I do know that’s the president stated so!) we actually developed what I might say is a tag staff when it comes to touring collectively or following up on numerous issues that needed to be completed, whether or not it was in Washington or overseas. And folks noticed that. They noticed that the primary woman and the primary girl secretary of state had been really capable of do issues collectively on behalf of an unimaginable agenda.

Now, I take some credit score within the following manner: I made a decision that I might make ladies’s points central to American international coverage. And never simply because I’m a feminist, however I might say that I do know that when ladies are politically and economically empowered in societies, the state of affairs is healthier. And it’s in America’s nationwide curiosity.

After which once more, the three of us based Very important Voices, which was an outdoor group.

Then, once I obtained to the State Division, I made a decision that we wanted extra ladies ambassadors and international service officers and actually made variety one of many main points. After which, in fact, Hillary took it to ranges past something I might have completed. And with you there, Melanne, I believe that made an enormous distinction additionally. We had been making progress and we needed to do extra collectively. And I believe that that continues to be the theme.

The Street Forward

We’re all on the identical web page when it comes to understanding that the job is just not completed and that we now have to maintain reaching out to numerous organizations that we’re part of with a purpose to make issues occur.

I’m chairman of the board of the Nationwide Democratic Institute and really pleased with usually the democracy work that we do, but additionally very targeted on attempting to assist ladies to become involved in politics of their international locations. (This isn’t in line with celebration—we do some work with the Worldwide Republican Institute.)

One of many issues that we now have discovered, really, is that there are threats in opposition to ladies who’re both working for workplace or are in workplace. There needs to be extra help for all of that.

It is usually essential to get males to be supportive of girls being in politics. It’s not a zero sum sport; we may be good companions. Once I educate [at Georgetown], I spend a number of time speaking about that. I’ve function play that I do in my class, and I make it a degree of assigning ladies to jobs that they haven’t but had, like secretary of protection. And we all the time have a lady secretary of state. After which strive to determine the best way to have the younger males that they’re working with perceive that the partnership is essential.

I believe the lesson that we now have realized is that nothing occurs robotically. There may be a number of good concepts, like Beijing, after which they should be actually adopted out. You’ll be able to’t simply suppose it should occur. And so motivation. After which these of us which have any form of a voice should ensure that we’re diversified in our illustration.

All of us should take care of this collectively, and it needs to be deliberate and humble on the identical time.

Relaxation in energy, Secretary Madeleine Albright.

If you found this article helpful, please consider supporting our independent reporting and truth-telling for as little as $5 per month.

Up subsequent:


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here