Posts Tagged ‘Vital Voices’

I have only a few pics and no content to offer here. Hillary makes an annual appearance at the Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards. The event was held on Wednesday the 24th.

18th Annual Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards : News Photo18th Annual Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards : News Photo18th Annual Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards : News Photo

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Vital Voices, which Hillary Clinton was instrumental in founding in 1997, held its 16th Annual Global Leadership Awards event on Wednesday evening, and Hillary was there, in red and fierce, for International Women’s Day 2017. The event was held at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.


Thank God for the Kennedys, the Clintons, and the Democrats in general for their support of the performing arts. We are going to have to fight for them. Certain parties think reality TV qualifies as performing arts. There may be performance there, arguably, but the artfulness is in question.



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As the Spring bulbs were shooting up, Hillary also began, slowly, to emerge and find her way back into the spotlight.  Her first public appearance was at Vital Voices, where she speaks every year.  This time she appeared with Vice President Biden raising a flurry of comments about 2016.

On the 4th she joined Bill and Chelsea for a SeriousFun Children’s Network event honoring Liz Robbins at Chelsea Piers.   The next evening, she spoke at the Women in the World Conference.

Also on the the she accepted membership on the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition’s National Advisory Board.

On the 8th came the news that what had formerly been the William J. Clinton Foundation had been renamed for all three Clintons.

Speaking engagements were being announced and supporters and fans anticipated public appearances near their hometowns.

Margaret Thatcher passed away, and although invited, the Clintons did not attend.

She appeared at the Global Fund for Women Gala on the 18th and offered remarks on the bombing at the Boston Marathon.


On the 22rd Hillary and Bill Clinton were at Lincoln Center in New York to see longtime friend and supporter, Barbra Streisand receive an award.


In Dallas at her first paid speaking engagement, she dodged “that question.”

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The next day she shared the stage with the other living FLOTUSes and POTUSes for the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center.

As April waned rallies were being held outside venues where Hillary, in one case even Bill, was appearing and a biopic was being planned.

No longer having access to an official public schedule, I began keeping track of her public appearances on my own.  Assuredly, I did not catch every single one, but here is the calendar I kept for April.


Washington DC

Kennedy Center

Vital Voices


New York NY

Lincoln Center

Women in the World Summit


New York NY

Global Fund for Women Gala


Dallas TX

Four Seasons Resort & Club

2013 NMHC Spring Board of Directors Meeting


Dallas TX

G.W. Bush Library

Library Dedication

Archives for April 2013 can be accessed here.

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It seems as if the media has lost its collective head over two public appearances this week by Hillary Clinton after a two-month absence from the public eye. It is interesting when you consider that around this time last year she was in Istanbul at a Friends of the Syrian People Conference  that was covered so shoddily that one vice presidential candidate was ignorant of the group’s existence.  Where was the media frenzy then?  Might she have had something important to impart then?  Click on the image to see the video and remarks you did not see then since apparently it wasn’t that important at the time.  It was only Hillary doing her job.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sp

If the media ever had covered Mme. Secretary’s tenure at the State Department as energetically as it has followed John Kerry’s from the start, there would never have been a need for this blog.  But while our Hillary sacrificed her personal family life to do her job in her signature dedicated manner, the press, largely,  stood aside .  We did hear interviews and reports from regulars in the press room and on her Big Blue Plane.  Most recently, Kim Ghattas published a book about these adventures.  For the most part, however these forays and the speeches delivered were given little media coverage despite MSM spending bucks to send their correspondents along for the rides.   Reports often consisted of  a correspondent quoting her while showing silent, truncated video clips of Hillary.

So one has to wonder why all the media hype this week?  What is new?  What does it mean?  What’s it all about?  Here are the facts.  Hillary Clinton appears at these two events every year.  The sole exception was the Vital Voices event last year when she was on foreign travel, once again in Turkey.  If you click on the image you can see what the media neglected to provide about that event.

U.S. Secretary of State Clinton and Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu attend the Global Counterterrorism Forum in Istanbul

Chelsea appeared at Vital Voices in her place and brought along a video from her mom.  Hillary Clinton has routinely appeared at these annual events and had she not this year, that would or should have raised the antennae,  not the other way around.  Then the questions would/should have been, “Where is she?”  “Why isn’t she here this year?”

Instead, apparently unaware of her history with these organizations and events, the press entered DEFCON 1 – maximum readiness – because she made two routine appearances at two events she tries never to miss.  In contrast, our current DEFCON level  with respect to  North Korea’s threats is 4 –  above normal readiness.

Here is the archive of Hillary Clinton’s past appearances at the events that shook the airwaves this week.  None of these, in the past, received the coverage or were attributed the gravity her appearances at the same events received this past week.  All she did this week was what was routine for her, what came naturally.

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks at the Ninth Annual Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards

March 11, 2010 by still4hill |

Hillary Rodham Clinton: Remarks At the Women In The World Summit

March 15, 2010 by still4hill

Video: Secretary Clinton Introducing the play “Seven” at the Women in the World Summit 03.12.2010

March 15, 2010 by still4hill

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks at the Women in the World Summit **Updated With Video**

March 11, 2011 by still4hill

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks at the 10th Annual Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards

April 12, 2011 by still4hill |

Video: Hillary Clinton at “Women in the World 2012″

March 10, 2012 by still4hill

Hillary Clinton’s Video Message to Vital Voices

June 8, 2012 by still4hill

So it is these two appearances that have the media all in a twirl and to which Maureen Dowd refers as  “tornado activity.”   Two things we knew Hillary Clinton would do after stepping down as Secretary of State were making speeches and writing a book.  Over the past year or more Hillary has often said she would be speaking and writing.  She never, to my knowledge, mentioned a spa,  Maureen.  Why the fact that she is doing what she said she would do should generate wide-eyed shock and speculation is as confounding as the reaction some of her supporters displayed in 2008 when, after suspending her campaign,  she went on the road to campaign for Obama-Biden as she had said she would.  Why is it lost on people that Hillary Clinton is a woman of her word?

Apparently Hillary Clinton is never so fascinating as when she does exactly what she has said she would do or is doing what she always has done while no one was paying attention. Dowd’s Op-Ed in today’s New York Times aggravates as much for what is omitted as for what is included.  As a woman and a journalist, how is it possible that Dowd does not know of Hillary’s history of speaking at the above events? Of course she has known.  Clearly she chose to ignore that history for the sake of sensation.

She sprinkled in some irritants: “commandress” in chief?  Really? That {-ess} suffix eschewed  by women of many professions is truly a stretch.  A quick check found it  primarily referring to a social event and secondarily to a wardrobe style.  It is simply snarky from the keyboard  of one whose career was never subjected to what linguists refer to as marking.  Unlike a stage performer, Dowd has never been burdened with the {-ess} mark.  She should not have applied it where it does not belong.

For four years as Secretary of State in every country she visited, Hillary Clinton declared making women full partners in society and the economy “the unfinished business of the 21st century.”  Friday was not the first time she said it.  It was more likely the thousandth, but since the media ignored all of those speeches, their readers and viewers might have the impression that this was the birth of a campaign slogan.  In truth it encapsulated her signature issue as secretary of state throughout her tenure and was no red flag.  It is her mantra.

It is arrogant of Dowd to question Hillary Clinton’s ability to learn, her learning style, and to pseudo-analyze her personal academic history in that respect.  Worse, it is needlessly disruptive at this point to set up a false comparison between her style and Obama’s.  Who says Obama gets an A cramming only the night before?  Where are the polls that assign him an A?

Many in the media point long fingers back at 2007-2008 and declare her campaign a disaster.  Certainly there are lessons to be learned there, but we should also remember that she did capture the popular vote and won primaries in landslides.  It was a failure to prime the caucus states that did not guarantee her the nomination.  If she does mount another campaign, certainly that metric will be recalculated.

Hillary Clinton’s approach to all things is to analyze and gain a thorough grounding before speaking out.  That strategy would not be inappropriate for Dowd and the rest of the media to take in view of the short shrift Hillary’s work at the State Department was given. Had they adopted this technique they would not have found Hillary Clinton’s recent activities, from book deal to speeches,  in any way surprising or even significant.  All of that was simply Hillary being Hillary doing what she said she would do and doing what comes naturally to her.


Edited to add:  For all of the reasons stated above, Arianna Huffington has proven herself to be an envious ignoramus of monstrous proportions (as we have always known) given these remarks this morning.

Arianna Huffington: Hillary Clinton sending a bad message to women

During her appearance on ABC’s ‘This Week,’ liberal publisher Arianna Huffington was critical of Hillary Clinton for jumping back on the national stage so quickly.

“She’s obviously running,” Huffington said bluntly about Clinton’s future in the 2016 presidential race.

Huffington added that she was disappointed that Clinton didn’t take more time to rest.

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No, Arianna, she was obviously fulfilling an annual commitment. Do not count on seeing her around much over the next few weeks, since she is not running. She will be writing and resting.

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Remarks at Vital Voices

April 2, 2013

MRS. CLINTON: Good evening, everyone. (Applause.) This is such a wonderful occasion that we’re here. It’s the 12th such gala event for Vital Voices, and the most successful financially thanks to all of you. And it’s wonderful for me to be here because all those years, I’ve only missed one time – last year – and to be back again is such a great privilege and honor.

I want to thank Jean (ph) for her introduction, but much more than that – for the wonderful work that she is doing on behalf of women and girls. And I want to thank Vital Voices for honoring one of my dear friends and a personal heroine. We saw the short film about Inez McCormack. She never stopped working for peace, and her legacy now stretches far beyond Northern Ireland, inspiring people across the globe. And I’m so pleased that her beloved husband, Vinny, and her right-hand woman, Claire, could be with us tonight as we celebrate her life and legacy.

Well, that’s also true for the honorees. We’ve already met some of them, and more are still to come. Starting with that brave, young woman who stood up to the Taliban and insisted that girls have a right to attend school; a doctor in Somalia who saved the lives of countless refugees and stood up against al-Shabaab when they attempted to stop her and her doctors from doing their lifesaving work; an entrepreneur from Palestine who is helping women start and grow businesses; a crusader for land rights in Cambodia, a young woman we just met who I had to call several times as Secretary of State to get out of prison because she stood up for a fundamental right that people everywhere should have: a title to their homes, property rights that give them the same stake in the future which everyone deserves to have; and the police chief from Brazil who is developing new ways to stop violence against women, and you could tell from listening to her is determined that she will continue to make progress. And you will meet three brothers fighting human trafficking in India.

Now, each of them is a remarkable example of how much can be achieved when courage and compassion meet. So I am particularly pleased that we are here at Vital Voices to recognize their efforts. And I am delighted that Vice President Biden will be able to join us tonight. Vice President Biden and I have worked together on so many important issues, and one that is particularly close to his heart is the fight against (inaudible) and violence. And I know what a personal victory it was for him to see the Violence Against Women Act reauthorized last month. (Applause.)

Now, let me also remind (inaudible) the friends and colleagues and advocates and extraordinary women and men who understand the importance of this work. Many of us have worked and traveled together for decades; we’ve shared struggles and successes and even some foxholes over the years. It’s a little bit like a family reunion, which is why it feels absolutely right for us to be honoring a woman who is like a sister to us all: Melanne Verveer. (Applause.)

For more years than either of us cares to admit, Melanne and I have had both a mutual admiration society and a mutual inspiration society. (Laughter.) She has devoted her entire career to helping others live up to their own God-given potential, especially women and girls, starting as a student at Georgetown – (applause) – as a staffer on (inaudible), at People for the American Way. Her energy and intellect has been simply unstoppable.

And Melanne has been a part of Vital Voices since the very beginning. She was there with me and thousands of the (inaudible) activists in Beijing in 1995. The Chinese authorities didn’t want to hear what we had to say, but the voices of all those amazing women could not be denied: Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights. (Applause.)

Melanne worked for this organization every step of the way – never tiring, always ready to board another plane, visit another country, meet another aspiring and inspiring leader, forge a new partnership, break another barrier. And more than one person – probably many of you in this auditorium have wondered, why does she do it? Why does she give so much of herself for all of us? In other words, what makes Melanne, Melanne?

Well, I have (inaudible) up close for years now. And I don’t have the answer. (Laughter.) I’m constantly amazed. I’ll say to her, “Melanne, we’re having a meeting on Monday about X, Y and Z; can you be there?” And she’ll pause and she’ll say, “Well, I’m going from Bangladesh to Sweden, and then probably to Colombia, but yes, I’ll be there.” (Laughter.)

I remember when Melanne was my chief of staff in the White House, and we often had meetings in a place called the Map Room, where FDR used to track the progress of our armies in World War II. We thought it was an appropriate place for the women of the White House to meet. (Laughter and applause.) It occurred to me that maps can tell us as much about ourselves as about the world around us. Now, you can look at a map of the world and see nothing but problems as far as the eye can perceive. And that is especially true for those of us committed to the struggle for women and girls. We see too many countries where women still face violence and abuse; too many political systems that treat women like second-class or even worse; too many economies that deny women the chance to participate and prosper.

But that’s not all the map shows. It’s not what Melanne and I see. When we look at the map, we do see progress because we know people are making that progress against the most extraordinary odds, every day, everywhere. We see the opportunities that are there to be seized. We see and hear those vital voices. Melanne and I have always believed that women who lack opportunity – whether it is the opportunity to go to school, own land, start a business, run for office – should not be viewed as society’s problems but rather as solutions, agents of change, drivers of progress, makers of peace. All it takes for them to have a fighting chance. Our unwavering faith in the potential, the untapped potential of women and girls is at the heart of the work we’ve done together over these many years.

So when I became Secretary of State, I was determined to weave this perspective into the fabric of American foreign policy so that our diplomats and policymakers would see a map of opportunities as well as challenges. And I asked Melanne to serve as the first-ever Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, and I’m delighted that President Obama has officially made that high-level position permanent, and that (inaudible). (Applause.)

We were adamant from the start that it would not be enough to preach to the choir; you had to reach out to men, to leaders who on the face of it might not have seen our perspective, and I’m pleased that Vital Voices has done the same. Because we knew how to make the case to the whole world that creating opportunities for women and girls directly supports everyone’s prosperity and security. That was a case that could be made based on hard data and clear-eyed analysis. So that’s exactly what we did. We relied on the economic research that shows that when women participate in the economy, everyone benefits, and when women participate in peacekeeping and peacemaking, we are all safer and more secure.

So we did put women on the agenda and made it a centerpiece of all that we did. We launched global and regional initiatives to translate our arguments into results. And Melanne tirelessly traveled, making the case.

People have always said that Melanne is indefatigable. Well, her work and her travel have produced results. We promoted initiatives like the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program to provide access to training, markets, finance and credit. We started something called Young Women, which is working to shrink the global gender gap in global phone access by 50 percent in just three years. And in the spirit of Vital Voices, Melanne spearheaded the launch of a new project to support women in public service. To focus our entire government on the contributions women can make, we created a National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security. And I’m thrilled that Melanne will be continuing this work in her new role at Georgetown’s Institute for Women, Peace and Security.

Now, because secretaries and ambassadors come and go, we had to make sure that the importance of this issue did not leave with us. And that’s why Melanne and I worked with colleagues at every level of the State Department and across our government, and with President Obama and his team in the White House, to ensure that it does remain a priority for the future. And we both remain committed to doing all we can outside of government to continue making this case.

So the next time you see a map of the world, ask yourself: How did Melanne see it? Not as a set of intractable problems, but as a roadmap of opportunities to serve, to solve, to empower.

So, Melanne, thank you. Thank you for everything you’ve done for Vital Voices and for the women in the world. Thank you for showing us what leadership looks like and helping so many to find it in themselves.

Please join me in saluting a courageous woman, a fearless champion, and a great friend – Melanne Verveer. (Applause.)

MRS. VERVERR: (Inaudible) every single aspect of this evening, and tonight (inaudible). (Laughter.) And this is the major co-conspirator. (Laughter.) So I want to thank Hillary from the bottom of my heart, and to Vital Voices.

It’s wonderful for me to be back with the Vital Voices family. I have been privileged to travel around the world and I have seen firsthand the respect that this organization enjoys and the good that it does. But it really is I who owe a deep debt of gratitude to Secretary Clinton and to President Obama for giving me the extraordinary honor to represent our country in this new position.

It was almost 20 years ago – hard to believe – that Hillary made that historic speech in Beijing, at the women’s conference, for all the world to hear when she said that women’s rights were human rights. And she sparked a movement for women’s progress everywhere: from her years in the White House as First Lady, giving voice to those who were on the front lines of change around the globe, to building and growing Vital Voices to what it is today, and most recently, to making women and girls the cornerstone of the United States’ foreign policy. And I have been privileged to be part of this extraordinary commitment of hers, and for that I am extraordinarily grateful.

One day, in Kabul, after a meeting with a group of Afghan women leaders, they gave me a bouquet of plastic flowers which I still have, and they told me it was to remind me of them, and that there was an Afghan saying that said that one flower does not make a spring, but many flowers blossoming together do. And they, in one of the most challenging, harshest environments, like so many other women around the globe and those we honor here tonight, are ushering in a new spring – one of possibility and opportunity, one of peace and progress. And each and every one of you, and I include my two young granddaughters who are here tonight, each of you is helping to make that spring possible by supporting Vital Voices around the globe.

After all, as Hillary often says, this is not just the right thing to do; it is also the smart and effective thing to do. And that’s why our journey must continue.

Thank you all so very much. (Applause.)

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The metaphor of Hillary Clinton waiting in the wings has run through these pages before in both words and images.  Hillary Clinton can look tantalizingly attractive as she waits to take the podium, and,  for her supporters, the natural thought progression migrates to the steps of the Capitol on a January morning in 2017 in the rough-and-tumble, lickety-split manner of The Pokey Little Puppy‘s litter mates.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waits to walk onto stage to speak at the third annual U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) at the Department of the Interior in Washington May 9, 2011. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waits to walk onto stage to speak at the third annual U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) at the Department of the Interior in Washington May 9, 2011.
REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

How fitting  that the week and month that begin with April Fool’s Day should herald Mme. Secretary’s  first three public speaking engagements as she emerges from her cocoon as a full-blown private citizen for the first time in decades while, in the outside world, Hillary-Fever hits epidemic proportions making fools of some.  In cable media, every self-respecting host devotes at least one segment to the Hillary Effect while the print media, bloggers, and Facebook groups offer, according to their place on the political spectrum, varied speculation on what Hillary Clinton could possibly be up to as she so coquettishly keeps us waiting for her answer to the Big Question.

Memory can be short.  Those who stood shoulder to shoulder with Hillary through the brutal 2008 primary campaign tend to be more circumspect about what a campaign would entail, how it might roll out, and the degree to which Hillary’s current sky high poll numbers might hold in a campaign setting.  Ironically, among some of the louder and more self-assured voices are those who assaulted her most viciously in 2008.  On his Sunday show yesterday, Chris Matthews stated with all the certainty in the world that “Hillary Clinton has given every indication that she is running…” which, of course she has not and has taken pains to avoid.  At counterpoint to this is Jim Rutenberg in yesterday’s New York Times who actually took the trouble to speak with Hillary’s spokesman Philippe Reines and exuded no such certainty.  It is not a stretch to imagine Matthews and his ilk to be dangling her out there as a pretty, candy-filled piñata waiting to be bashed once again when the new flavor of the month arises.  Who that might be I leave to speculation, but judging from responses to my tweets and Facebook posts a particular name proliferates.   True Hillary loyalists must regard current endorsements and their sources with a glance in the rear view mirror and a healthy dose of skepticism.

The only credible news is that Hillary Clinton will speak twice this week.  Tomorrow in Washington D.C. at Kennedy Center for the annual Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards and again on Friday at Lincoln Center in New York at the annual Women in the World Summit.   Her first official paid speaking event is scheduled for April 24 in Dallas.  Despite a rally scheduled for tomorrow evening outside Kennedy Center and promoted by the Ready for Hillary SuperPAC,  it is most unlikely that what we will hear her say will have anything to do with running for president.  It is far more likely, as reflected in Kathleen Parker’s excellent piece in Newsweek for Women in the World, that we shall hear her directly address the question of how her initiatives for women, established under the the auspices of the State Department, will continue  now that she no longer occupies her State Department post.

parker-FE01-hillary-effect-main-teaseCan the Hillary Effect sustain itself without the Hillary? ( Thomas Whiteside/Jed Root )

The Hillary Effect

Will Clinton’s Agenda Survive?

by Kathleen Parker

The Hillary Effect has spread across the globe. But how well will it last without Hillary at the helm?

Aside from a summary of how her agenda remains underpinned at the State Department, it seems realistic to expect an announcement of some private initiative on her part to continue addressing women’s issues on a global basis.  At both of these events she will have no dearth of strong women leaders from all over the world surrounding her who surely would join any campaign she embarks upon to advance the causes – the many causes of women – from education, to security in sending one’s children to school, to human trafficking, to marrying whom one chooses, to running businesses and running for political office.

While the next presidential election remains years away, daily, in many cultures, child brides are promised like chattel.  Assuredly, Mme. Secretary timed her marriage equality video for release prior to last week’s SCOTUS arguments, but the message resounds more broadly than the LGBT community, and women, who drive economies, who are the growers, makers, students, educators, and shoppers have their greatest impact when they are free rather than subjugated by fathers and by husbands they have not chosen.  That aspect of marriage equality, the full equality of citizens,  and its implications for women and girls is likely to arise among the many issues confronting women in the world today.

No, it is not likely that Hillary Clinton will have an announcement about a presidential campaign when she emerges from behind her curtain this week, but there is certain to be a campaign nonetheless.  There will be a platform, and as is always the case with Hillary Clinton, there will also be a blueprint for building the social structure she conceives.

USA - 2008 Elections - Iowa - Senator Clinton at Rally

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Folks in the D.C. area will also have a chance to see Hillary Clinton early next month.

2013 Global Leadership Awards

2013 Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Opera House
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

7:30 PM Awards Presentation

 Tina Brown
Nicholas Kristof
Diane von Furstenberg  

Vice President Joe Biden
The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton

Global Trailblazer:  Malala Yousafzai | PAKISTAN
Solidarity Award:   The Kant Brothers | INDIA
Fern Holland Award:  Dr. Hawa Abdi | SOMALIA
Human Rights Award:  Sandra Gomes Melo | BRAZIL
Economic Empowerment Award:  Manal Yaish Zraiq | PALESTINE
Leadership in Public Life Award:  Tep Vanny| CAMBODIA 

Special Tribute:  The Honorable Melanne Verveer
Vital Voices Co-Founder and Chair Emeritus

This evening is dedicated to the memory of Inez McCormack.

For more information, CLICK HERE.

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Secretary Clinton was traveling this year when Vital Voices met  so Chelsea took her place, but Mme. Secretary did deliver a video message.

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Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Kennedy Center
Washington, DC
April 12, 2011

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good evening. Oh, welcome to one of my favorite nights of the year, and especially this extraordinary 10th anniversary of the Global Leadership Awards and the Vital Voices Gala. I want to thank all of you for supporting the work that is done, and particularly the individuals who do it.

We come together this evening to celebrate seven extraordinary individuals who have devoted their lives to bringing peace, freedom, justice, and opportunity for people who are often on the margins, who are forgotten, who are considered second class, disposable.

Tonight we honor an entrepreneur from Afghanistan who provides job training for women; two peace activists from Israel – one Arab, one Jewish; a rescuer of trafficked women and girls in India; a presidential candidate from Cameroon; a longtime member of the United States Senate; and the leader of the democracy movement in Burma.

Now, each hail from different cultures and parts of the world. But they share important values and attributes. They each look for ways to make systemic change – to lift the lives of thousands, even millions of people. They each have paid a price for their work in arrests or abuse or ridicule, insults, and isolation. Their courage has inspired others to stand with them despite the risks and the consequences – to believe in the possibility of a better future and their own ability to help build it.

And of course, they are all women. Because at a time when millions of women worldwide are still denied their rights, still excluded from the public debates in their societies, still subjected to violence inside and outside of the family, still barred from schools, courts, markets and public squares, it is even more remarkable that tonight’s honorees have accomplished all that they have.

And it is even more critical that their work continue, because they are protecting and improving the lives of women and girls. And we must support them. We must proclaim to the world, clearly and as one, that these women are heroes, their work is valuable, and their voices are vital.

Now, during these past 10 years of the Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards, no matter where I have been in the world, I have always come back to Washington because this organization and its mission are very close to my heart.

As many of you know, Vital Voices began as a government initiative during the Clinton Administration at another time of great change in the world. Many countries were emerging from conflict and repression, beginning the transition to democracy. Former Secretary and my friend, Madeleine Albright, and I, along with others at the State Department and the White House, believed it was critical that women have a role in shaping the futures that they would inhabit. And we believed that if women were brave enough and strong enough to challenge the status quo and participate in politics, civil society, the economy, that we should help them.

So what began in a small office at the State Department as the Vital Voices Democracy Initiative has grown into the Vital Voices Global Partnership, an NGO with more than 1,000 staff and partners worldwide. Vital Voices has supported the work of 10,000 emerging women leaders in nearly 130 countries. And those women have, in turn, mentored more than half a million women and girl leaders worldwide.

Everywhere I go in the world, somebody from Vital Voices comes to see me. They’ll talk about a training program or a visit, an opportunity they had to learn more about what they could do. And thanks to Vital Voices, we know the multiplying effect we achieve when we invest in women. It actually initiates a positive chain reaction that quickly acquires an energy of its own.

We’ve seen women make unique and critical contributions. They often see problems that others overlook. They are able to reach populations that others either cannot reach or do not care to do.

We’ve seen how, in places that are struggling with conflicts, women are very effective peace builders. They bring people together to support negotiations, to ensure that accords signed in official ceremonies actually are going to be implemented and help individuals reach their own aspirations.

Vital Voices not only celebrates the achievements of women and not only produces positive impacts for them and for us, but it offers women in lonely and dangerous circumstances a community of support. I have heard from so many who often feel hopeless, exhausted, that this community keeps them going. And we have therefore a direct and powerful way to support progress and justice.

I carry the lessons of Vital Voices with me every day. At the State Department, we are working hard to embed support for women’s rights and advancement as a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy. Melanne Verveer, the co-founder of Vital Voices, is leading that effort as our Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues. And we’re urging parties to listen to the voices of women and to support the democratic rights of women and men together.

Now, on this night, we honor Aung San Suu Kyi, a woman who endured years of isolation from her family and the world with unfaltering grace and the strength of steel. I call again for the Burmese authorities to allow her and her party to participate in Burma’s political process and that they be granted freedom of movement, expression, and assembly. (Applause.)

And we hold up the ethnic women of Burma who are fighting against the systematic use of rape by the Burmese military, and we continue to urge the regime to release more than 2,100 political prisoners, including some very brave women.

Now, in our lifetimes, the world has come a long way in protecting and advancing freedom and opportunity for women. But make no mistake about it: We have a very long way to go. The women who are honored tonight remind us of that, but also inspire us to continue.

This is not only an urgent foreign policy challenge for me. It is not simply a social justice issue, the most important in my view for the 21st century. But it is a personal mission as well. And I am deeply honored that we stand here in this great opera house once again to say thank you to those women who are on the front lines across the world who maybe make each of us dare a little more, risk a little more, do a little more.

So for all those reasons, we are grateful that you are here to support the work of Vital Voices. Thank you all. (Applause.)


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I posted the text of this introduction earlier today. You will see it if you scroll down. I was not sure we would have a chance to see a video, so I am happy these are up!

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