Inspired Choices for Tough Jobs

December 2, 2008 posted by Linda Basch There is a widespread outcry for the US to reassert its moral leadership in the world. How do we do this? Well, for starters, we can demonstrate a genuine commitment to partnering with other nations to create greater global security and equality for all peoples – across genders, religions, ethnicities, races, and sexualities.  We have a lot of ground to make up, given the US’s record over the past eight years, when our government has often seemed to impede rather than facilitate global peace and security.  In this regard, President-elect Obama’s choice of Hillary Rodham Clinton as Secretary of State is promising. Not only does Clinton have a good grasp of global complexities, but she is an interesting combination of toughness and compassion.  Think back to her comments on the campaign trail about what we need to expect from nations with which we’ll enter into diplomatic negotiations.  But also remember back to her inspiring words at the Fourth World Women’s Conference in Beijing in 1995, when she emphasized that when women are full and equal partners, families, communities, and nations flourish.  We hope that the Secretary-designate will pick up on some of the exciting ideas she put forth then and move full steam ahead. As you’ll see from the posts on our blog today, women leaders have strong hopes for the kind of leadership Clinton will exert on the world stage as Secretary of State, and for her first 100 days. For our part, at the National Council for Research on Women, here is our wishlist:

  1. We hope that the Secretary of State will give particular attention to the plight of women globally, and the need for their increasing equality and empowerment.  Both these objectives could be advanced by skillfully wending CEDAW (the Convention  on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women) through the US Congress.  The US stands apart from the 185 countries of the world that have ratified this Convention since 1979. 
  2. High also on our list is ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which all UN member states, with the exception of Somalia and the US, have ratified. We also need to build support for the Child Soldiers Prevention Act and the International Violence Against Women Act, the latter co-sponsored by VP-elect Joe Biden. There’s history to be made with a team of Clinton and Biden working together on this front!
  3.  A Fifth World Conference on Women for 2010!  This would provide a long-overdue opportunity for nations and women across the globe to identify solutions to the many seemingly intractable inequalities women continue to confront.  I know we all agree that the finding reported by UNIFEM, that one in three women will be raped, beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in their lifetimes is morally unacceptable (also see the NCRW publication: Gains and Gaps).

And while we’re on it, Obama’s nomination of Susan Rice as ambassador to the United Nations, which he plans to elevate to a Cabinet post, also has exciting implications for a growing US role in humanitarian matters, including Darfur and other parts of the world.   Again, we hope, that attention will be paid to the special situations of women who too often are left out of the discussion.  More on that soon.  For now, I invite you to read on to see the suggestions and expectations of thoughtful women leaders about Hillary Clinton’s new role.  And please feel free to add your own!

--Linda Basch, President of the National Council for Research on Women 

P.S. Check out this wonderful article by Michele Wucker Links: Women Leaders from Media and Academia Salute HRC Abigail Disney on HRC’s Projected Ascent Marie Wilson Urges HRC to Make A Lot of Phone Calls

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