Mitchell Reports | March 08, 2013
>> dote is international women 's day. a day that both recognizes how far women have advanced and also how much women still are the targets of violence and discrimination around the world . a new bbc documentary, what if women ruled the world , based on dede meyer's 2008 book. it will be broadcast this weekend, featuring world leaders past and present .
>> for all three female secretaries of state , the issue of women 's empowerment wasn't a secondary issue, it wasn't derivative of something else. it was a core issue for the state department and for american foreign policy .
>> dede myers is the first woman to be white house press secretary and joins me now here.
>> happy international women 's day.
>> i was at a conference last night moderating a panel on women violence focussing on women in new delhi, and with really smart people from new delhi and uganda, a woman lawyer from there, and it was just heart breaking to hear how much women are still victimized. we know it. we know it in conflict zones. it's also done in the shadows, in the dark.
>> not only street violence, but violence within the families.
>> right. domestic violence as we know is a problem all over the world , including here, which is why it was great through this week, the congress finally passed the violence against women act , but around the world violence is certainly one of many obstacles to women , but what's interesting is when you increase women 's -- when you empower women , not only does that make them more likely to stand up for themselves, but when they have more economic value and people, particularly men, recognize that, domestic violence decreases. there were so many secondary benefits. it increases economic growth generally. it increases the likelihood that peace agreements will take root. it reduces violence not only within homes and within societies, but between countries. as we just saw secretary rice say, because we've not -- not just because we've had women secretaries of state , but that's helped, but because the benefits are so tangible that empowering women has become strategic objective, which is a big sea change from to 20 years ago.
>> i remember being in beijing with hillary clinton in 1995 when she declared human rights are women 's rights, and women 's rights are human rights . as first lady. it was considered a disgrace. not only with the chinese government offended, but diplomatic and foreign policy experts around the world said, you know, we should not have first ladies talking about policy, and it was really quite radical.
>> it was radical.
>> since then we've had madeleine albright and condi rice and hillary clinton as secretaries of state , and i just came back from john kerry 's first trip, and in watching his last stop in doha, qatar, the other day, he was saying when women are empowered, we have less conflict. when women are empowered and educated and have equal status, we have, you know, fewer wars. hearing that from a male secretary of state after we've heard this from hillary clinton at every stop on her million mile journey for four years is really very interesting.
>> so it's really been an exciting sea change , right, that 15, 17 years since hillary clinton made that radical declaration to see that the people that were once appalled by it now understand the economic value . i mean, women were responsible for some $20 trillion in spending around the world last year and the next two years will be more like dollaring $28 trillion. not only are diplomats seeing it as a strategic objective and imperative, but corporations are seeing it. that by investing in women and educating women , you can create educated consumers and improve the supply chain and create stability in countries so you can do business. i think hillary clinton did such a phenomenal job raise this profile of this issue more broadly and bringing not just diplomats, but business people to the table, and she created a special bureau inside the state department , and i know secretary kerry will continue to make sure that that is a priority.
>> in fact, i think one of the last things that clinton did was to make sure that the president signed a directorate that it is not up to the discretion of any particular secretary. among those you interviewed are christine lagarde , arguably one of the most powerful women in the world , head of the imf, and she talked about that balance we discussed with sheryl sandberg 's question of leaning in and all this. this is what she had to say when you interviewed her.
>> when i was a senior associate of becker mckenzie and then a partner my two sons were born, and i made a point as a young partner of taking my wednesday afternoon off to go with them to the swimming pool or to whatever activities they had on wednesdays afternoons. it was looked at with a bit of cynicism and skepticism by my male partners, but i thought it was important for me. it was important for my sons. it was even more important for the other female lawyers in the firm who knew that it was okay because if a female partner was doing it, then they could also consider daring the difference.
>> daring the difference.
>> the fact that she -- i mean, this was an american law firm based in chicago, and she subsequently, of course, became finance minister in france and then lobbied very actively and successfully, obviously, for imf chief .
>> one of her catch phrases, if you call it that, is dare the difference. that she encourages women to dare the difference, and she says in the documentary and all over the world that she discourages women from trying to imitate men. men. women are different and bring a different perspective and different way of seeing the world because they live live a little bit differently and she said taking wednesdays off when the boys were little to spend time with them and creating an environment where other women could do that. that's a difference and brings her perspective on other elements of life to the table inside the law firm or inside the ministry in france that changes the dialogue and broadens the dialogue and create better solutions and so i think that's a good message for women . not to try to be like men but bring what women bring in order to strengthen the conversation and benefit everybody.
>> may i just ask a personal question?
>> for you, was it very difficult being the only senior woman among the boys' club at the white house ?
>> it was definitely challenging and it was not only challenging internally at times. it was challenging as you remember walking in to the briefing room where most of the reporters at this time were men, most of them were older than i was. and so establishing authority for me was difficult and didn't confer with the job as it had for somebody of my male predecessors and i had to earn that over and over and over. so yeah. it was definitely challenging and thrilled to see how much things have changed in the last two decades. right? the briefing room is now full of women . the current press secretary is a man but i don't think anyone would be the least bit surprised to see a woman walk up to the podium and we have seen others. and so, i think that we have seen a big change there and really, really interesting.
>> thank you so much.
>> thank you.
>> great to see you.
>> thank you for having me on.
>> congratulations on the documentary.