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A Powerful Voice for Women Around the World

Author: Isobel Coleman, Senior Fellow and Director of the Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Initiative; Director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program
May 12, 2013
New York Times

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Few secretaries of state have firmly held the reins of foreign policy. Critical decisions on international issues are usually made in the White House while the secretary clocks the frequent flyer miles as diplomat-in-chief. Secretary Hillary Clinton dutifully logged more miles than most.

One of her lasting contributions in that role was her indefatigable effort to make women's rights a central component of U.S. foreign policy.

When Clinton first made an international name for herself on this issue, at the UN's 1995 Beijing Conference on Women - where she memorably asserted that "women's rights are human rights" - she framed the challenge in moral terms. But as secretary of state, she persistently connected the dots between women's rights and major foreign policy concerns such as global economic development, food security, extremism and political stability.

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