December 10 is International Human Rights Day, an annual commemoration of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To celebrate how far we’ve come – and examine the work we still have ahead of us – we bring you this conversation between our host Melanne Verveer, and two distinguished former United States secretaries of state: Madeleine Albright and Hillary Rodham Clinton. This conversation was recorded in October, on the 25th anniversary of the landmark speech Secretary Clinton gave at the UN Fourth World Conference on Women that took place in Beijing. There, she famously declared “women’s rights are human rights.”
I’m certainly going to continue to call for women’s rights. But more important to me now is enabling women to have the power to claim their rights. One of the things we saw after Beijing were lots of laws being changed, but the culture, the social and religious pressure didn’t result in the kind of claiming of rights that women deserved. You can change the law about inheritance so that the husband’s brother doesn’t inherit everything; it goes now to the wife or even to the children, including the daughter. But if it’s not enforced, if women don’t have the power to execute on the laws that were changed, then they’re not going to see the kind of progress toward equality that they deserve. So we still have a lot of work to do.
This episode of Seeking Peace features audio from an event hosted by the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security. This episode was mixed by Martine Chaussard and mastered by Laurent Apffel. Our team includes lead producer Caro Rolando, editor David Alandete, assistant producer Laura Ubaté, production manager Luis Gil, and executive producer Martina Castro.