By Karen A. Duncan - 01/20/09 06:52 PM EST
As I listened to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) confirmation hearing for secretary of state, I felt tremendous pride. She answered each question with intelligence, depth and grace. Her infallible comprehension of the issues and her ability to transcend politics was apparent. Her leadership qualities were highlighted in a way that seldom occurred in the media during her Democratic campaign. I reveled in her ability to communicate such a diverse understanding of global socio-political issues, their impact to the United States and role our country must take.
I also relished the acumen of the female committee members. Seeing these accomplished women share their mutual concerns, and professional friendship, warmed my feminist heart and stimulated my brain. I was particularly heartened when Sen. Barbara Boxer directly brought to the forefront the premise that central to successful U.S. foreign policy is the treatment of females around the world.
Sen. Clinton’s response identified that the global oppression of females by the horrific crimes of rape, sexual assault, sex trafficking and physical violence, along with cultural barriers that prevent female education and result in poverty of the spirit as well as economic poverty, and the long-standing genocide of women in Darfur will no longer be tolerated. The message to countries around the world is that the eradication of these long-targeted “weapons” against women (and children) will be central in talks measuring a country’s humanitarian and economic success.
By creating an Office of Women in the U.S. State Department, Sen. Clinton signaled a new avenue of influence that will extend accountability for the treatment of women and children around the world, for the lives of children are inextricably tied to their mothers. I thought, “Here is a woman who applies the lessons of the past, creates opportunity for our young, and puts basic human values into action.”
It is with much anticipation that I will follow Sen. Clinton’s accomplishments, and challenges, in the months ahead. My excitement is not dampened by the inevitable sexism I expect from both men and women, and even a measure of personal jealousy at her success.
Millions of women around the world celebrated the presidential Inauguration this month. But, we will also celebrate the audacity of this woman as she too leads with compassion, intelligence and courage.
Leave no doubt, Hillary Rodham Clinton will continue to be a force to be reckoned with. I look forward to leaders around the world, who are primarily men, sitting down with her as she speaks for the “unprotected, unhealthy, unfed and uneducated.” The voices of the silent will be heard. That should make us all proud.