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Wow. When was the last time you heard anyone applaud like that for their boss? Hillary Clinton said goodbye to the men and women of the State Department yesterday, stressing that gender equality can change the world for the better:
Then there's human rights and our support for democracy and the rule of law, levers of power and values we cannot afford to ignore. In the last century, the United States led the world in recognizing that universal rights exist and that governments are obligated to protect them. Now we have placed ourselves at the frontlines of today's emerging battles, like the fight to defend the human rights of the LGBT communities around the world and religious minorities wherever and whoever they are. But it's not a coincidence that virtually every country that threatens regional and global peace is a place where human rights are in peril or the rule of law is weak.
More specifically, places where women and girls are treated as second-class, marginal human beings. Just ask young Malala from Pakistan. Ask the women of northern Mali who live in fear and can no longer go to school. Ask the women of the Eastern Congo who endure rape as a weapon of war.
And that is the final lever that I want to highlight briefly. Because the jury is in, the evidence is absolutely indisputable: If women and girls everywhere were treated as equal to men in rights, dignity, and opportunity, we would see political and economic progress everywhere. So this is not only a moral issue, which, of course, it is. It is an economic issue and a security issue, and it is the unfinished business of the 21st century. It therefore must be central to U.S. foreign policy.
One of the first things I did as Secretary was to elevate the Office of Global Women's Issues under the first Ambassador-at-Large, Melanne Verveer. And I'm very pleased that yesterday, the President signed a memorandum making that office permanent.
In the past four years, we've made – (applause) – thank you. In the past four years, we've made a major push at the United Nations to integrate women in peace and security-building worldwide, and we've seen successes in places like Liberia. We've urged leaders in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya to recognize women as equal citizens with important contributions to make. We are supporting women entrepreneurs around the world who are creating jobs and driving growth.
So technology, development, human rights, women. Now, I know that a lot of pundits hear that list and they say: Isn't that all a bit soft? What about the hard stuff? Well, that is a false choice. We need both, and no one should think otherwise.
Sadly, we've seen the erosion of women's equality right here in the United States, thanks to the warped priorities of the Republican party. Maybe we can do something about that.