"Ten years ago, I was privileged to speak at the Beijing Conference on Women. In that speech, as the representative of our government, I tried to explain clearly, for the world to hear, that there could no longer be women's rights and human rights as though they were not one in the same. That's what we had to do, and what was important for the United States to do, was to stand for women's rights. To work with governments and societies to open doors to health care and education and to the full participation in society.
In the last 10 years, we have made a lot of progress. But we still have work to do. And it is my hope that more young women in America will not only demonstrate here in our country how they are putting together lives of meaning and purpose, but also contribute to that great struggle abroad.
There are so many stories that we have seen in our own media over the last several years that clearly argue for the importance of women's full participation—not just because it's the right thing to do, but because our belief in democracy and freedom really demand that it occur.
I've been to Iraq and Afghanistan twice as a member of the [Senate] Armed Services Committee. I've met with women in both of those countries who have seen so much hope, but are aware of the continuing dangers to them as they go to school, as they try to practice a profession, as they show up to vote, as they run for office. I'm very proud of our country for standing with these women, as they have struggled against great odds to fulfill their own hopes and aspirations."