Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is spearheading a quiet revolution in progressive foreign policy by making the empowerment of women and advancement of their rights a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy. While overshadowed by other foreign policy issues—the global financial crisis; wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya; nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea; terrorism; and the Arab Spring to name a few—the Obama administration has embarked on the most concerted effort to advance women’s rights in the history of U.S. foreign policy.
Secretary Clinton has been the main mover behind this agenda, and her well-known personal interest in empowering women internationally has propelled it forward. For instance, Saudi women activists called on Secretary Clinton to support their right-to-drive campaign due to her intense personal interest in women’s rights.
But the fate of the Obama administration’s new focus on international women’s rights and empowerment is uncertain without a high-level champion like Secretary Clinton, who has said she will leave the administration at the end of President Obama’s current term in office. Progressives should ensure that Secretary Clinton’s focus on women’s rights and empowerment survives beyond her tenure at Foggy Bottom and becomes a central, definitional component of what it means to have a progressive foreign policy.
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