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Friday, January 21, 2011

Hillary Clinton’s popularity soars even as she places women’s rights at the center of US foreign policy

 Secretary Clinton meets with Belarusian and Belarusian-American human rights activists including "We Remember" President Irina Krasovskaya and Belarus Free Theater co-founder Natalya Kolyada to discuss recent events in Belarus. State Department Photo by Michael Gross

In her recently published must-read article in the Guardian, Madeleine Bunting marvels that Hillary Clinton’s popularity continues to soar as she places women’s rights at the center of US foreign policy.

Bunting writes:

Many of her statements can be routed back to the idealistic internationalism of 70s feminism. Astonishingly, she has managed to bring the feminism for which she was loathed in the early 90s (as the first lady who didn't stay home and bake cookies) into the heart of the state department and foreign policy, and is still clocking high opinion poll ratings.

From the start Clinton left no one in any doubt where she stood: women's rights are "the signature issue" of this administration's foreign policy, she said. She mentioned women 450 times in speeches in the first five months in office. "Transformation of the role of women is the last great impediment to universal progress," she declared, and began to develop what is her standard line: women's issues are integral to the achievement of every goal of US foreign policy.

Or put more simply: the empowerment, participation and protection of women and girls is vital to the long-term security of the US. Last month this rhetoric was translated into policy in the long awaited Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, which aimed to redefine US foreign policy around civilian power. "We are integrating women and girls into everything we do… in all our diplomacy with other governments… in our work on conflict and crisis," said the state department's briefing.

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