Madeleine Albright: On being a woman and a diplomat

Pat Mitchell: What is the story of this pin? Madeleine Albright: This is “Breaking the Glass Ceiling.” PM: Oh. That was well chosen, I would say, for TEDWomen. MA: Most of the time I spend when I get up in the morning is trying to figure out what is going to happen. And none of this pin stuff would have happened if it hadn’t been for Saddam Hussein. I’ll tell you what happened. I went to the United Nations as an ambassador, and it was after the Gulf War, and I was an instructed ambassador. And the cease-fire had been translated into a series of sanctions resolutions, and my instructions were to say perfectly terrible things about Saddam Hussein constantly, which he deserved — he had invaded another country. And so all of a sudden, a poem appeared in the papers in Baghdad comparing me to many things, but among them an “unparalleled serpent.” And so I happened to have a snake pin. So I wore it when we talked about Iraq. (Laughter) And when I went out to meet the press, they zeroed in, said, “Why are you wearing that snake pin?” I said, “Because Saddam Hussein compared me to an unparalleled serpent.” And then I thought, well this is fun. So I went out and I bought a lot of pins that would, in fact, reflect what I thought we were going to do on any given day. So that’s how it all started. PM: So how large is the collection? MA: Pretty big. It’s now traveling. At the moment it’s in Indianapolis, but it was at the Smithsonian. And it goes with a book that says, “Read My Pins.” (Laughter) PM: So is this a good idea. I remember when you were the first woman as Secretary of State, and there was a lot of conversation always about what you were wearing, how you looked — the thing that happens to a lot of women, especially if they’re the first in a position. So how do you feel about that — the whole — MA: Well, it’s pretty irritating actually because nobody ever describes what a man is wearing. But people did pay attention to what clothes I had. What was interesting was that, before I went up to New York as U.N. ambassador, I talked to Jeane Kirkpatrick, who’d been ambassador before me, and she said, “You’ve got to get rid of your professor clothes. Go out and look like a diplomat.” So that did give me a lot of opportunities to go shopping. But still, there were all kinds of questions about — “did you wear a hat?” “How short was your skirt?” And one of the things — if you remember Condoleezza Rice was at some event and she wore boots, and she got criticized over that. And no guy ever gets criticized. But that’s the least of it. PM: It is, for all of us, men and women, finding our ways of defining our roles, and doing them in ways that make a difference in the world and shape the future. How did you handle that balance between being the tough diplomatic and strong voice of this country to the rest of the world and also how you felt about yourself as a mother, a grandmother, nurturing … and so how did you handle that? MA: Well the interesting part was I was asked what it was like to be the first woman Secretary of State a few minutes after I’d been named. And I said, “Well I’ve been a woman for 60 years, but I’ve only been Secretary of State for a few minutes.” So it evolved. (Laughter) But basically I love being a woman. And so what happened — and I think there will probably be some people in the audience that will identify with this — I went to my first meeting, first at the U.N., and that’s when this all started, because that is a very male organization. And I’m sitting there — there are 15 members of the Security Council — so 14 men sat there staring at me, and I thought — well you know how we all are. You want to get the feeling of the room, and “do people like me?” and “will I really say something intelligent?” And all of a sudden I thought, “Well, wait a minute. I am sitting behind a sign that says ‘The United States,’ and if I don’t speak today then the voice of the United States will not be heard,” and it was the first time that I had that feeling that I had to step out of myself in my normal, reluctant female mode and decide that I had to speak on behalf of our country. And so that happened more at various times, but I really think that there was a great advantage in many ways to being a woman. I think we are a lot better at personal relationships, and then have the capability obviously of telling it like it is when it’s necessary. But I have to tell you, I have my youngest granddaughter, when she turned seven last year, said to her mother, my daughter, “So what’s the big deal about Grandma Maddie being Secretary of State? Only girls are Secretary of State.” (Laughter) (Applause) PM: Because in her lifetime — MA: That would be so. PM: What a change that is. As you travel now all over the world, which you do frequently, how do you assess this global narrative around the story of women and girls? Where are we? MA: I think we’re slowly changing, but obviously there are whole pockets in countries where nothing is different. And therefore it means that we have to remember that, while many of us have had huge opportunities — and Pat, you have been a real leader in your field — is that there are a lot of women that are not capable of worrying and taking care of themselves and understanding that women have to help other women. And so what I have felt — and I have looked at this from a national security issue — when I was Secretary of State, I decided that women’s issues had to be central to American foreign policy, not just because I’m a feminist, but because I believe that societies are better off when women are politically and economically empowered, that values are passed down, the health situation is better, education is better, there is greater economic prosperity. So I think that it behooves us — those of us that live in various countries where we do have economic and political voice — that we need to help other women. And I really dedicated myself to that, both at the U.N. and then as Secretary of State. PM: And did you get pushback from making that a central tenant of foreign policy? MA: From some people. I think that they thought that it was a soft issue. The bottom line that I decided was actually women’s issues are the hardest issues, because they are the ones that have to do with life and death in so many aspects, and because, as I said, it is really central to the way that we think about things. Now for instance, some of the wars that took place when I was in office, a lot of them, the women were the main victims of it. For instance, when I started, there were wars in the Balkans. The women in Bosnia were being raped. We then managed to set up a war crimes tribunal to deal specifically with those kinds of issues. And by the way, one of the things that I did at that stage was, I had just arrived at the U.N., and when I was there, there were 183 countries in the U.N. Now there are 192. But it was one of the first times that I didn’t have to cook lunch myself. So I said to my assistant, “Invite the other women permanent representatives.” And I thought when I’d get to my apartment that there’d be a lot of women there. I get there, and there are six other women, out of 183. So the countries that had women representatives were Canada, Kazakhstan, Philippines, Trinidad Tobago, Jamaica, Lichtenstein and me. So being an American, I decided to set up a caucus. (Laughter) And so we set it up, and we called ourselves the G7. (Laughter) PM: Is that “Girl 7?” MA: Girl 7. And we lobbied on behalf of women’s issues. So we managed to get two women judges on this war crimes tribunal. And then what happened was that they were able to declare that rape was a weapon of war, that it was against humanity. (Applause) PM: So when you look around the world and you see that, in many cases — certainly in the Western world — women are evolving into more leadership positions, and even other places some barriers are being brought down, but there’s still so much violence, still so many problems, and yet we hear there are more women at the negotiating tables. Now you were at those negotiating tables when they weren’t, when there was maybe you — one voice, maybe one or two others. Do you believe, and can you tell us why, there is going to be a significant shift in things like violence and peace and conflict and resolution on a sustainable basis? MA: Well I do think, when there are more women, that the tone of the conversation changes, and also the goals of the conversation change. But it doesn’t mean that the whole world would be a lot better if it were totally run by women. If you think that, you’ve forgotten high school. (Laughter) But the bottom line is that there is a way, when there are more women at the table, that there’s an attempt to develop some understanding. So for instance, what I did when I went to Burundi, we’d got Tutsi and Hutu women together to talk about some of the problems that had taken place in Rwanda. And so I think the capability of women to put themselves — I think we’re better about putting ourselves into the other guy’s shoes and having more empathy. I think it helps in terms of the support if there are other women in the room. When I was Secretary of State, there were only 13 other women foreign ministers. And so it was nice when one of them would show up. For instance, she is now the president of Finland, but Tarja Halonen was the foreign minister of Finland and, at a certain stage, head of the European Union. And it was really terrific. Because one of the things I think you’ll understand. We went to a meeting, and the men in my delegation, when I would say, “Well I feel we should do something about this,” and they’d say, “What do you mean, you feel?” And so then Tarja was sitting across the table from me. And all of a sudden we were talking about arms control, and she said, “Well I feel we should do this.” And my male colleagues kind of got it all of a sudden. But I think it really does help to have a critical mass of women in a series of foreign policy positions. The other thing that I think is really important: A lot of national security policy isn’t just about foreign policy, but it’s about budgets, military budgets, and how the debts of countries work out. So if you have women in a variety of foreign policy posts, they can support each other when there are budget decisions being made in their own countries. PM: So how do we get this balance we’re looking for, then, in the world? More women’s voices at the table? More men who believe that the balance is best? MA: Well I think one of the things — I’m chairman of the board of an organization called the National Democratic Institute that works to support women candidates. I think that we need to help in other countries to train women to be in political office, to figure out how they can in fact develop political voices. I think we also need to be supportive when businesses are being created and just make sure that women help each other. Now I have a saying that I feel very strongly about, because I am of a certain age where, when I started in my career, believe it or not, there were other women who criticized me: “Why aren’t you in the carpool line?” or “Aren’t your children suffering because you’re not there all the time?” And I think we have a tendency to make each other feel guilty. In fact, I think “guilt” is every woman’s middle name. And so I think what needs to happen is we need to help each other. And my motto is that there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other. (Applause) PM: Well Secretary Albright, I guess you’ll be going to heaven. Thank you for joining us today. MA: Thank you all. Thanks Pat. (Applause)

100 Replies to “Madeleine Albright: On being a woman and a diplomat

  1. Marcel,when you are ready,take your rifle and come-we will waiting.Serbia is a proud country,where my grandfathers sword from Serbia uprising is older then whole your country.So please come!

    За Србију гинем,за Србију мрем!

  2. Republika Srpska recently got their own office and representation not only in Serbia and Russia as in the past but now in Germany, Israel and Austria and they are improving relations with other countries. Madeleine Albright a star? she had lead NATO almost to their grave, look at interviews from that time from NATO and other US oficials what they thought about her war, that she said it will last 3 days.

  3. yo should check you tube video "disgusting serbs", at 1:02 minutes. just to reassure anyone that may have a high opinion of this "lady" what a racist she is. and if that is not enough, google about her personal interests in kosovo. politic is a bitch, and this is a mild word for this persona.

  4. What was done to former Yugoslavia is that it was destroyed by the west, using aggressive nationalistic Croatian and Muslim separatist movements. They used stupidity of Serbian politician and provoked them to engage in preventing the separation. Many Serbs lived for centuries in territories that communist regime attached as parts of autonomous republics with Croat or Muslim majority, many of those themselves are nothing else than converted Serbs. And whoever wanted to conquer, it divided first.

  5. Serb/Croat/Muslim people was mixed, and the separation was hardly possible. During nazi rule, Croat/Muslim puppet "Independent state Croatia" killed milion Serbs, so the rest were living in fear for their life if Croatia separated again, that was justified, according to acting of Croatian separatist politician. The film was secretly taken and shown in public (by Yugoslav secret military service) of several Croatian politicians planning for succesion where they clame that they will kill the Serbs

  6. So, the stage for war was prepared. The west, controlled by interest groups, equipped and organized separatist. First, Slovenia declared independance, what led to complete destruction of the federation. Serbs lived accross the country, not only in Serbia, and there were native local population in Bosnia and also parts of Croatia. They didn't come from enywhere during last 7 hundred or more years, just to "send them back" to Serbia. Doing so is ethnic cleansing mrs.Albright supported…

  7. …simultaneously blaming Serbs that they do that to others. Half a million Serbs from all over Yugoslavia are still refuges in Serbia. Kosovo, part of Serbia, populated with Albanian majority (many of them came as refuges with their big families from stalinist Albania, were accepted on Serbian land in spite of atrocities against Serbs in WW2, while Serb refuges from WW2 were forbidden by communist Tito to come back to Kosovo!) was taken by force of NATO. Why they acted so, I hope they know!

  8. Former Yugoslavia wasn't integrated to the west, nor to the east, so they could do it, just using old quarrels as a cover. Nato just finished it off bombing Serbia. When its archenemy-the USSR and the balance of power were no more, it started finding itself opponents to justify its existence. Yugoslavia was destroyed first. Many wars followed, some are to start soon. Media did the best job in the case of Yugoslavia, now it's more obvious what's happening.We'll see if the separatists will benefit

  9. Yugoslavia was destroyed by Serbian nationalism. As simple as that. They should have sent ALL Serbs into Serbia proper, separating Kosovo and Vojvodina early on. No illegal Republika Srpska in Bosnia. It's time to teach Serbia yet another lesson. Send them all home so they are all among themselves.

  10. If you disagree with her views, then articulate it like a decent human being. Throwing derogatory insults around shows a lack of intelligence.

  11. FYI this is the woman who is on record saying the murder of 500,000 children under the age of 5 was an acceptable price to pay to achieve US foreign policy

    That makes her 18,518 times more evil than the recent school gunman

    (assuming the gunman acted deliberately with a clear head, was not under the influence of any medication. And assuming he shows no remorse in the future for his murder in the same way that Albright shows no remorse).

    I hope that explains the insult 🙂

  12. This monster lives too long! I hope that someone will gunned down it very soon because spirit of Seung-Hui Cho is immortal.

  13. fucking ugly bitch.would like to pee on her tombstone when she fuck away and l bet there are 40 million Kurds who would like to do that.and again we 40 million people will always have a deep rooted dislike in our heart for u.

  14. What a heap of Serbian nonsense. Serbia destroyed Yugoslavia. Serbs have no business interfering in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Hercegovian, Kosovo, Vojvodina and Macedonia.They should have rounded all of them up and sent them back to Serbia.

  15. What an entertainer you are. I am sitting here laughing out loud about this nonense. Are you on drugs or have you been an idiot since you were born?

  16. Serbia CREATED Yugoslavia in 1918, and has no interest in destroying it. Otherwise Croats and Slovenes wouldn't exist today. Hungary, Italy and Austria would have destroy them. They were begging Serbia to help them and let them live in new created Yugoslavia. So Serbia put away its dream of uniting all Serbs into one country-Serbia, but used its strong political position after WWI to create Yug. and protect brothers by language and blood! And those brothers put the knife in Serbian back inWWII

  17. When Germany occupied Slovenia in 1941, thousands of Slovenes came to Serbia, even separatist president of Slovenia spent his WWII childhood in Serbia, so saved his life. They were welcome. And Serbs lived in what is now called Croatia and Bosnia for many centuries. Many Croats are, in fact, Serbs converted to catholicism. Almost all of muslim-converted Serbs. Foreign powers devided ex Yu nations, and finally conquered them. Serbs were most numerous in ex Yu, so they were to be struck hardest!

  18. When Germany occupied Slovenia in 1941, thousands of Slovenes came to Serbia, even separatist president of Slovenia spent his WWII childhood in Serbia, so saved his life. They were welcome. And Serbs lived in what is now called Croatia and Bosnia for many centuries. Many Croats are, in fact, Serbs converted to Catholicism. Almost all of Muslims-converted Serbs. Foreign powers divided ex Yu nations, and finally conquered them. Serbs were most numerous in ex Yu, so they were to be struck hardest!

  19. After all, the destruction scheme is obvious, it is repeated too many times with the same initiators. The obvious influence of foreign powers in separating parts of Yugoslavia includes Germany, USA and the rich Muslim countries. One could say that the country that could be destroyed that way shoudn't exists, and may be right. But so much lives were lost in defending its territorry and peoples in WW1 and WW2, and in destroying it, so every guilty party is remembered by the destiny to pay for it!!

  20. Madeleine the Monster, the world's majority opinion of you is on display in this comments section. Enjoy. 🙂

  21. If my surname was Pfister, I'd probably be in a jocular mood as well.

    NATO atrocities, on the other hand, aren't funny to me.

  22. You're an ignorant fool. As for NATO atrocities, there were none. The atrocities committed were the ones done by Serbia. Serbia is responsible for the destruction of Yugoslavia. As for Kosovo, which is now an independent country, they committed unspeakable crimes against the Kosovars. Time to dissolve Republika Srpska and remove the Vojvodina from Serbia, as well.

  23. You're just regurgitating the sort of fallacious propaganda we heard in the 90s (produced for domestic consumption, of course, as most Americans never seem to tire of believing in false things). The NATO and U.S. destroyed Yugoslavia and had their own nefarious reasons for doing so (NATO expansion into the former socialist bloc, for starters). Serbs had very legitimate (and historical) reasons for FEARING the destruction of Yugoslavia.

    You're full of shit, Marcel. Just like Madeleine.

  24. When you die…on your grave will stand a childern boots to remind you of the evil that you bring Serbian children in the bombing of NATO.

    I get the shakes when I think of what awaits you when you die … poor woman

  25. I like being on an equal footing with the guys I work with. I think we keep each other in check. I also think it is good to mentor evenhandedly. Giving a hand up the person that wants to rise up whether male or female. 

  26. Oh? And is there a "special place" in your precious "hell" for those who wantonly cause the starvation deaths of 500,000 children?

  27. Shame on you for utterly ignoring the genocide in Rwanda. Seems like you are on their side. What's more inhuman than vaccination the population, genetic modifies food, fluoridate our water supply, mass surveillance, chem-trails, the list goes on. If we continue to feed on media rubbish, the change we make will do no good in our future. Realizing the truth is far more better on working your ass off to earn that worthless piece of shit. WAKE THE FUCK UP.

    Eastern Ukrainians and Russians should know that most educated working class people in the U.S. stand against Liberal progressive bourgeois warmongers like Albright and the Clintons. It is the U.S. Media that covers for them

  29. You people wouldn't last 5 minutes as UN ambassador or US Secretary of State. Self serving, ignorant beasts you men can be. I'm ashamed of my Y chromosome sometimes. Doesn't sound like any of you actually listened to this interview, either. You proved her point haha

  30. Yes I found this video finally! I have been looking for a video that provides insight on being a female diplomat. Thank goodness ^_^

  31. Madeleine Albright may very well be the ugliest human being walking the face of the earth. I've heard of getting hit with the ugly stick but this is ridiculous. She looks a cross between Quasimoto and a gargoyle.

  32. Albright on being not so bright (more like dark) and on being an ugly guy posing as a woman you mean? It even explains about its 'female mode'.

  33. I hate to be the one oblivious to the elephant in the room…but why does everyone seen to hate this woman? What did she do?

  34. She has nothing to do with being a woman! No real woman ever do what she did to this sad world. She is chosen by her dark underground where she comes from! She is garbage of the civilization.

  35. Madeline Albright starved 500,000 Iraqi children because their leader refused to sell off the country's oil to ExxonMobil and said their deaths were "worth it."

  36. ROFL she had an out of body experience and became a man? Was she channeling the men? Yes, she believes in channeling, she said so on Morning Joe!

  37. And she expected them to fly to America, or get to her apartment from wherever they were, just to have an opportunity to have lunch with her?

  38. Gee, she's a woman. As if it matters. I prefer to judge a politician on what they achieve, not what they are packing.

  39. Dear Madeleine Albright pay attention. to the problem in American nedicine is is dentistry .l would like to that the American senators nacheli procedure legislation, exhumatiobs? so to Speak detection and detection of violations in the US archives ,violations of American political laws by the statute of limitions,the transfeer of undoubte dly of undemandance under the control of foreigners and manipulations ln dental materiel,and healthcare in the Dental Branch in Amereka in the states .Urgent checks are needed .Prevlech worker guards and other Structures that will check the validity of these organizations of a clumsy nature in the atmosphere.👀👂

  40. I was required to listen to this speech for a high school class i'm in and all it did was piss me off. Literally three quarters of this damn speech was about feminism and how women are better than men. Get back to the kitchen!

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