Advice for Secretary Kerry on International Women's Day
As he marks his first International Women's Day as America's secretary of State, here are three areas where John Kerry can advance Hillary Rodham Clinton's work over the past four years on behalf of women and girls.
On his first day in office, Secretary of State John Kerry joked that he had “some big heels to fill,” referring to the fact that he was succeeding Hillary Rodham Clinton. And there's no doubt those heels are indeed very big when it comes to Secretary Clinton’s efforts to ensure that advancing the status and protecting the rights of women worldwide became a cornerstone of US foreign policy, and essential to the work of the State Department.Skip to next paragraph
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But as he marks his first International Women's Day as America's secretary of State, I am confident that Mr. Kerry is more than committed to following in Ms. Clinton’s footsteps. And I am hopeful that he will seize the opportunity to make his own large footprint in promoting global women’s issues though US foreign policy.
Over the last four years at the State Department, we worked to ensure that women’s issues were not just special-interest issues relegated to a tiny office but fully integrated into the everyday work of America's diplomats. The officials working in Washington and in US embassies around the world know that we cannot tackle challenges to security, the economy, democratic governance, the environment, and more unless women are participating at all levels of society.
Global stability, peace, and economic prosperity, can never be achieved without the full participation and empowerment of women. There's a volume of research and data showing that greater investments in women's health and education can lead to greater economic growth and more robust societies. Experience shows that when women’s voices are fully integrated into peace negotiations and security efforts, conflicts can be avoided and peace is longer lasting. When women participate equally with men in political and civic processes, governments can be more representative and often more effective.
As Clinton has said time and again, strengthening women and girls around the world is not simply the right thing to do – it is the smart thing to do.
Already in his first month in office, Kerry has demonstrated both his leadership and commitment. At his Senate confirmation hearing at the end of January, he “committed to the ongoing significant efforts that Secretary Clinton has invested in” to integrate women’s issues into the State Department, and to advance the status of women around the world.
He pledged to maintain the Secretary’s Office of Global Women's Issues, and to support the work of an appointed Ambassador at Large who could lead the Department’s efforts. And he emphasized the vital importance of integrating women's issues into department’s key activities – especially when it comes to promoting peace in conflict regions.