Interview With Lisa Ling of the Oprah Winfrey Show

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Interview was taped August 31, 2009
Washington, DC
October 1, 2009

QUESTION: What do you think of microfinance? Are you a big proponent of it?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I am a big proponent of it. It has been proven to work especially well with women. Women take these loans, they use them for their businesses, they buy a goat and then they sell the milk, or they go into vegetable farming and take their produce to the market. And then they use the money to educate their children, to buy a better house, to get clean drinking water.

If you give the money to the men in many of those cultures, they oftentimes use it to show off to their friends. And women are so focused on their children’s future that it’s a better investment. So in most microfinance programs, 90-plus percent of the recipients are women, and they pay back at 95-plus percent. So it’s a good investment.

SECRETARY CLINTON: When I was in Goma in Eastern Congo, I went to this incredible hospital called Heal Africa, where these extraordinary people have been dealing with the physical and the mental wounds of rape.

QUESTION: Do you really think that we can make a difference here?

SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s possible. We are going to work on what is the bigger issue of ending the conflict, but I never want to lose sight of the individuals. I like to keep in my mind sort of the pictures, faces that I’ve actually seen or that I’ve in some way encountered, because it is about trying to give people a better shot at life.

QUESTION: Are women’s rights a national security issue?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think they are, if you look at terrorism and extremism and abject poverty and a lot of the effects and the causes of instability, you more likely than not will find places that try to limit women’s roles and rights. And so often, those who stand against us stand against the rights of women. So we do have to integrate this into our national security. But it’s not just holding a conference. It’s not just passing a piece of legislation. We have to invest in girls and women around the world. I think that this is the moment, where everybody has a chance to be involved and to make that contribution.