Remarks at the Reception for Fortune's Most Powerful Women

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Thomas Jefferson Room
Washington, DC
April 30, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh my goodness. Well, that’s quite a claim. And I won’t go that far, but I will thank Ann, Assistant Secretary Ann Stock, for her commitment to this program and so many like it that really tell a story about our values and what we think is important. And I’m delighted to welcome all of you here to the State Department.

I had planned and been looking forward to being at this dinner, because you had been so well organized, you planned it far in advance, and then we worked out a date for the prime minister of Japan to come to Washington and when the White House said, “Well, why don’t you have a dinner for him at the State Department?” I said, “Well, we’ve already got this other dinner at the State Department, and I’m not about to ask them to move.” So I have to leave here to go over to the National Geographic building to host a dinner for Prime Minister Noda.

But I wanted to come by and thank all of you. I wanted to thank Fortune. I wanted to thank Pattie Sellers. I want to thank all of you for what you have done to really put the issue of women and women’s opportunities and successes at the forefront. And I know, Pattie, you’re not only editor-in-chief of Fortune, you also --

MS. SELLERS: I’m not editor-in-chief. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, well, editor-at-large. Editor-at-large, yes, editor-at-large, sorry. But editor-at-large plus co-chairing the Most Powerful Women Summit. And I’m grateful that Fortune and the State Department have worked together for several years now on the Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership. So far we have connected 174 emerging women leaders from over 42 countries – (applause) – the West Bank, and Gaza with mentors from Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Leaders.

And I would like to ask, first, all of the mentors to raise your hand who are here tonight. Thank you, thank you, thank you. (Applause.) And then I want to ask all the mentees to raise your hand. (Applause and cheers.)

Well, I’m excited because we have both mentors and mentees who are really stepping up to lead in the midst of historic political, social, and economic change. We have many relationships that are being created between you to spread information and inspiration at the same time. I really believe in this kind of mentoring and networking, because all too often it’s lonely out there, it’s hard out there, and you need support and guidance along the way. And for me, that’s not only important on a personal level, but I’ve seen the difference that women leaders, women activists, women citizens can make from one end of the world to the other.

Now, we are trying very hard to make sure that women are at the heart of American foreign policy and national security, not just because we think it’s a nice thing to do, but because we’re convinced by the evidence that it makes a real difference. So this is a celebration, and it’s a thank you for everybody who has participated in this program, but it’s also yet one more step on the way toward trying to ensure that women and girls are given the chance to live up to their own God-given potential.

So I thank you all. I’m sorry I won’t be here this evening to get to know you a little better and have some personal conversations, but for me, this is one of these events that I think has a lot of potential, because I don’t know who all is going to be in what position going forward.

Now, there’s somebody special that I want to introduce. I was looking for her. Sometimes she’s hard to find in a crowd. But I want her to come here. I want Senator Barbara Mikulski to come up here – (laughter and applause) – because I want you to know Senator Mikulski – (applause and cheering) – is the longest serving woman in history in the United States Congress. (Applause and cheering.) And when I was in the Senate we called her “the Dean” because she was the dean of all the women. Now she has surpassed the longevity of all the women.

And I want you, as I have to depart – I know you weren’t expecting this Barbara, but nobody expresses herself than Barbara Mikulski. I want her to give you just a little bit of an idea, because life is funny and unpredictable. Barbara was a social worker in Baltimore. And then something motivated her to be an advocate and to speak out and then to decide to run for public office. Now, earlier today, I know there was a panel that I heard about that I think Ann Stock and Assistant Secretary Roberta Jacobson and Under Secretary Tara Sonenshine were on, Barbara. And in the discussions with some of you, a number of you said well, your fathers, your brothers, your husbands are urging you to run for office, but you’re not sure you’re willing to do it because you’ll get so discouraged from the other women in your lives, that your girlfriends, your women relatives, they’re afraid for you, they’re worried about you, they don’t whether it’s a good idea.

And so I want Barbara to give you just a little favor – (laughter) – of – yeah, you’ve got to encourage all these young women from all over the world, Barbara. So please join me in welcoming Senator Barbara Mikulski. (Applause.)

PRN: 2012/671