It’s no secret that Hillary Clinton is awesome. Until she stepped down, she was the highest ranking female political official in the country, and, as such, a major feminist icon. Many feminists hope she will run for president in 2016, and I am one of them.
Clinton did such wonderful work as Secretary of State, especially for women and girls around the world. She was able to use her position of power to truly make a difference. For example, she worked to find ways to empower women and girls economically with The 100 Women Initiative, she worked tirelessly to get more women to run for political office, and piloted an initiative to empower women and girls through sports.
All of these are great programs, and we are a better nation — and a better world — for them. However, as you know, Clinton has recently stepped down from her position as Secretary of State and John Kerry has officially taken over. So what happens to all of these programs and, more importantly, the rights of women and girls around the world now that Clinton is gone?
Kerry was a good choice to follow Clinton. With his experience both in the Senate and as a former presidential candidate, I believe he has the experience to do what it takes to continue to make this world a better place for everyone, women and girls included. As Kerry joked, he does have some “big heels to fill,” but he has already announced a few programs he will be backing as he takes office. He wants to support USAID priorities such as: “Promote broadly shared economic prosperity; Strengthen democracy and good governance; Protect human rights; Improve global health, Advance food security and agriculture; Improve environmental sustainability; Further education; Help societies prevent and recover from conflicts; and Provide humanitarian assistance in the wake of natural and man-made disasters.”
Furthermore, according to The Broad Side, “On domestic women’s issues, he’s received a 100 percent rating from the American Association of University Women and as Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he supported the International Violence Against Women Act. Those are good signs of things to come.”
The question on some feminists’ minds is: does the Secretary of State have to be a woman in order to continue to champion the rights of women and girls around the globe like Clinton did? Obviously, men can and do emphatically support women’s rights, but will this particular man follow Clinton’s lead and continue to do so? We hope he will, and it seems that prospects are bright. With supporting economic prosperity and wanting to close the economic gap around the world, Kerry will hopefully continue to support women’s economic empowerment. He has said that he will support global health and HIV prevention programs, so hopefully that means that he will continue to support health-related education programs for women as well as issues such as maternal health and childcare.
With International Women’s Day coming up this Friday, the time is right for Kerry to jump right in and start where Hillary Clinton left off. We all hope he does, and I believe he will.
Photo Credit: Chairman of the Joint Cheifs of Staff