THE BLOG
02/15/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Women Matter

Senators Hillary Clinton and Barbara Boxer get it. This was a heroic week for women worldwide. During the proceedings of the confirmation hearing for Senator Clinton, Senator John Kerry joyfully stepped into the new shoes of the Chairman of Foreign Relations. Senator Lugar even looked please, but still asked tough questions. There was a lot of one-two punches, yet it was a virtual love-in even for the Republicans present, other than those silly folks from down South. Perhaps most importantly, the Boxer/Clinton dialogue slammed open the doors on International rights for women. It began the dialogue to stop barbarism toward women throughout the world.

Poignant and fraught with the imagery of Nicholas Kristof depicting the overwhelming violence to the girls of Pakistan, the world stage was set. These committee members that drive foreign affairs got it. If women continue to be victimized for breathing the very air they need to survive, a culture cannot evolve. Right then and there, a commitment was made by Clinton to police human trafficking and begin to save these women. The thirst for leadership at last had water. It felt right at last.

I want to pledge to you that as Secretary of State, I view these issues as central to our foreign policy. Not as adjunct or auxiliary or in any way lesser than all of the other issues we have to confront. I too have followed the stories that are exemplified by the pictures that you held up. I mean, it is heartbreaking beyond words that, you know, young girls are attacked on their way to school by Taliban sympathizers and members who do not want young women to be educated. It's not complicated! They want to maintain an attitude that keeps women -- as I said in my testimony -- unhealthy, unfed, uneducated and this is something that results all too often in violence against these young women, both within their families and from the outside.

This is not culture. This is not custom. This is criminal. And it will be my hope to persuade more government -- as I have attempted to do since I spoke at Beijing on these issues, you know, 13 and some years ago -- that we cannot have a free, prosperous, peaceful, progressive world if women are treated in such a discriminatory and violent way. I've also read closely Nick Kristof's articles, in the last months and especially the last weeks, the young women that he has both rescued from prostitution, and met, who have been enslaved and abused, tortured in every way- physically, emotionally, morally- and I take very seriously the function of the State department to lead our government through the Office on Human Trafficking, to do all that we can to end this modern form of slavery. We have sex slavery, we have wage slavery, and it is primarily a slavery of girls and women. So I look also forward, Senator, to reviewing your legislation and working with you as a continuing partnership on behalf of these issues we care so much about.

So we're going to have a very active office on trafficking, we're going to be speaking out consistently and strongly against discrimination and oppression of women, and slavery in particular. Because I think that is not only in keeping with American values, as we all recognize, but American national security interests as well.

And maybe in this lifetime, more and more women will be saved from these atrocities as they seek to learn, feed their families and find better lives. Maybe the ecosystem of poverty and despair will begin to change as women are no longer treated as chattel.

Amen to the work of these pioneers from Hillary to Kristof to Boxer, even including former President Bill Clinton who has tirelessly worked to eradicate horrific acts around the world in so many projects born from the Clinton Foundation. Ironic as it may seem, Bill and Hillary are advancing the cause of global diplomacy in their own ways, saving lives and lifting the veil of suffering.

Somehow, every actor in this world stage from JK to the Clintons seem in their right and proper places to effect massive change and transformation. Go figure.