Townterview with Danish Youth Hosted by TV2 With Johannes Langkilde
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of StateCopenhagen, DenmarkMay 31, 2012
MR. LANGKILDE: Good morning, everyone, and welcome to this very, very exciting event here in Copenhagen, where we’re going to talk to one of the most active and impressive and inspiring, powerful, tough politicians of the world, a person who, around the clock, works to promote her ideas of how to make this world a better place.
I know that you’re all extremely excited and eager to ask all your questions, and I can tell you I am too, so please give a very warm welcome to the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I am delighted to have this opportunity for this conversation with all of you, and I want to begin by thanking Johannes for being willing to moderate this event for us, and also to the Black Diamond, which I saw as I was taking a short boat trip and went by and marveled at it. And I’m looking forward to this opportunity.
Now someone asked me, why, if you’re here in Denmark and then you’re going on to Norway and Sweden and then later in the month you’ll be in Finland – why would you take time to have this discussion with young Danes? And I think the answer is very obvious to me, and that is because, as Johannes just said, I spend all of my time trying to figure out how we’re going to give to you, to my daughter, to the young people that I work with every day, the opportunity for the best kind of future possible.
And it’s always different wherever I am in the world. I can speak with young people in Indonesia, or in February, I was in Tunisia, today here in Copenhagen. But there’s a common theme, and it perhaps is more pronounced because of the connectivity of the world that we are all living in that didn’t exist, certainly, when I was your age, or even a decade ago to the extent it does today. So there are commonalities that young people themselves are feeling and seeing that might never have been apparent in the past.
But it’s especially important for me, as I start here in Denmark and then go on to the north, to say thank you, because the governments and people of your country and the other three that I would be visiting have been such extraordinary stalwart advocates for democracy, for economic opportunity, for inclusive growth. You are among the world’s most generous people, and I have seen the results of that generosity firsthand. I’ve also seen the extraordinary skill of the Danish military over the skies in Libya, on the ground in Afghanistan. I watched with great admiration your leadership on climate change and clean energy, and later today, I’ll have a chance with your prime minister to announce a new partnership where the United States and Denmark will try to do even more to promote green technology.
But I also have a personal relationship because in Washington, I live across the street from the Danish Embassy and ambassador’s residence. And I can attest from my daily experience that Danes are terrific neighbors – (laughter) – and that no matter what the season might be, I see the young Danes who work at the embassy riding their bicycles uphill. (Laughter.) I’ve seen it in snowstorms. I’ve seen it in driving rainstorms. It always makes me embarrassed that I’m not out there with you. (Laughter.) So it’s truly a sight to behold, but it also is a reminder of the energy that emanates from this important, albeit small, country.
So what could we think of, and as we move into this conversation, how can we better use technology today to make sure that you and people like you, whether they’re in advanced economies in the west, whether they’re in rising economies or in emerging ones, have an opportunity to fulfill your own potential? Expectations seem to be rising at a time when opportunities are dwindling. When I met in Tunisia with a group of young people, I was struck by how much they expected now that they were free. And I knew how difficult it would be. And can we get opportunity moving at the same pace as rising expectations?
There is, as you probably know, a youth bulge, as it’s called by demographers, in the world today. In many developing countries, 60 percent of the people are under the age of 30. And the obvious question is: Where will jobs come from? In Europe, of course, populations are getting older, not younger. But this dynamic creates its own challenges, particularly for young people, because will you have the kind of safety net that has been available to your parents or not?
So whether you lived in the developing or the developed world, the question I hear over and over again from young people is: What’s my future going to look like, and what role can you, who are in government today, or we, who are on our way into our lives, do to ensure the right answers? I think there are a couple of things.
First, we need to recognize that youth empowerment is a concept that has arrived, if there were ever any doubt about it. Years ago in the 1960s, which I know sounds like ancient history, I can well remember our own efforts to try to change the direction of a war, to change the direction of a society. And today, what I see is that young people need a chance to be more involved in and more empowered to be involved in the decisions that affect them.
Secondly, I think we have distinct challenges that have to be addressed as to how we come up with the economic and political pathways that will translate this concept of empowerment into a reality. That does require a level of participation.
One of the most distressing meetings that I’ve had over the last year was with a group of the young revolutionaries who led the revolution in Egypt, who started in Tahrir Square what became an extraordinary historic change. And I sat at a table with about 20 of the leaders, and I asked them, “Now that you have a chance to make the decisions about what your political system will look like, what do you intend to do to become organized politically?” And their answers were “We don’t do politics. We do revolutions.” And I said, “Excuse me?” Maybe I’m showing my age or maybe I’m of a different era, but I know that if you don’t become involved in the political life of your country, all that energy, all those hopes can dissipate.
And now, as we look at the outcome of a free and fair election by all accounts in Egypt, I’m hearing the voices of some of the same people I met with who are saying, “How did this happen? What happened to our candidates? What happened to the people who were at the forefront of the revolution?” One of our famous American politicians, Mario Cuomo, once said you campaign in poetry but you govern in prose. Well, that means to me that if you expect to see the changes that can come to provide that sense of empowerment and participation, there has to be participation politically.
And third, we have to look at what works. And here in Denmark, historically, you have made it a priority to expand economic opportunity to people on the sidelines. And you have, according to all of the analysis, the least income inequality in the world. That is quite astonishing as I watch my own country grow in income inequality, and it is an important goal that all of us should be moving toward to prevent inequality from distorting society, from distorting politics. And Denmark is not immune from the changes in the world economy, but you have certainly navigated them more successfully than many.
And let me just close by saying a few words about the current crisis in Europe. Obviously, it is for Europeans to determine the way forward. Whether you are in the EU and/or in the Eurozone, the European project deserves support, in our view. And I know that in hard times, people can be led to hunker down or even build walls to go back to the old divisions that so – for so long, bedeviled Europe.
But the values underlying the European project are still true today. The belief that a country’s and a people’s strength depends in part on whether your neighbors are strong and prosperous, that the best way for people to get ahead is through partnership with one another, rather than at each other’s expense. Whether you are Danish or Italian, Latvian or Spanish, there should be a place for you in the European community. And the dream of a Europe in which all people from all backgrounds live and work in dignity and peace is what inspired generations that came before you to persist in the European project.
So I know that there are some challenges that we all face. I’m certainly aware of the ones that my country is facing. But I am confident that the values that we have in common and the aspirations that are shared not only by Danes and Americans, but increasingly by people everywhere can be given the reality that we all deserve, but only if there is a level of political participation by young people.
So I say the same thing whether I’m in Cairo or Copenhagen; get in the game, dare to compete, be part of charting the new future that is waiting to be born, and the United States will be very proud and happy to make that journey with you. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)
MR. LANGKILDE: Thank you so much, Madam Secretary. Once again, welcome to Denmark. I hope really that you’re enjoying your stay here so far.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I am, and this is my fourth time to Denmark, and I always feel, as I was saying to you in the hallway, that I want to stay longer and see more. So I’m looking forward to coming back as a private citizen because I’ve always been here on an official visit and that is not quite as free. Now, my husband, who was here about a week ago, who is now, as he likes to say, retired – (laughter) – had the most marvelous time walking the city, going to Tivoli Gardens, going out to dinner, and I must say I’m a little jealous. (Laughter.) So we promised each other we’ll come back when we’re both retired.
MR. LANGKILDE: I hope that you’re comfortable in this chair. Actually, I just want to tell you a short story about it. You might recognize it. It’s the same chair that John F. Kennedy sat in in the memorable TV debate in 1960 when he was debating with Vice President Nixon.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Really?
MR. LANGKILDE: So it’s kind of iconic for Danish design, and – (laughter) – I would (inaudible) – (laughter).
SECRETARY CLINTON: Danish design is one of my favorites. So now that I’m sitting in the same chair John F. Kennedy sat in, it’s great. (Laughter.)
MR. LANGKILDE: A great chair for a great person. I would like to start out by asking you a question about Denmark actually. When you travel around the globe as a Dane, you’re often met with, “Oh, Denmark. Isn’t that the capital of Norway?” Or – (laughter) – we have polar bears walking around. It’s just I know that you know our country. You’ve been here. But honestly, Madam Secretary, what do you think when you see Denmark?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think progress, strength, accomplishment because I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it over several decades now. And the leadership that Denmark has shown in humanitarian and security and technology and design and social organization and political stability and democratic sustainability, it’s very admirable, and it’s something that I really look to, because of course you’re a small country, but if you add up all that Denmark has contributed, it’s quite a remarkable history.
MR. LANGKILDE: I would like to ask you: As the U.S. Secretary of State, what’s your greatest concern right now?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, they are interlocking. Always the greatest concern when you’re in a position like this is the fear that there can be nuclear proliferation and – either by a rogue state or by a non-state actor. We know that a lot of the extremist terrorism groups keep seeking weapons of mass destruction; not only nuclear and radiological material, but chemical and biological, and that is deeply distressing. At the same time, we see old fashioned, conventional military means being used against innocent people as we just saw horrifically again in Syria.
So it’s both the new threat that are part of our modern age and the age-old problems of dictatorships and brutality and human rights abuses. And in the world we find ourselves in because of technology, we now know what’s happening everywhere. I don’t think we have the capacity to act everywhere, which makes it very challenging. Because when you know that people are being murdered in the Eastern Congo or Syria or being – having their human rights abused anywhere in the world, there is the natural tendency of wanting to do something. So we have to be as effective as we can against the threats that we see.
MR. LANGKILDE: Before opening up for questions from the – you guys – I just want to ask you one more question. You mentioned Syria.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
MR. LANGKILDE: And recently, we saw some horrific pictures coming out of the city of Houla, more than 100 persons brutally slaughtered, and when is the U.S. going to say enough is enough; now we really have to use some military force to stop these killings?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, one of our great dilemmas is that the action that we took part in in Libya, that Denmark was a key partner in, had United Nations support. So thereby, you had the international support. And we do not yet have that. We have very strong opposition from Russia and China, but it’s primarily Russia. And that makes it harder to put together an international coalition. I’ve not, by any means, given up on it, because I think every day that goes by makes the case stronger, and I talked with Special Envoy Kofi Annan yesterday actually on the flight over, because he is working hard to expand his mandate to be able to do more to push the Assad regime. In order to accomplish that, we have to bring the Russians on board, because the dangers we face are terrible.
The continuing slaughter of innocent people both by the military and by militias supported by the government, and then increasingly by the opposition, which is understandably trying to defend itself and kill those who are trying to kill them, which could morph into a civil war in a country that would be riven by sectarian divides which could then morph into a proxy war in the region, because remember you have Iran deeply embedded in Syria. Their military are coaching the Syrian military. Their so-called Qods Force, which is a branch of the military, is helping them set up these militias, these sectarian militias. And you have Russia continuing to supply them arms, and you have Turkey very worried on the border, and you have Jordanian – or Jordan and Jordanian Government worried.
So we know it could actually get must worse than it is, and we’re trying to prevent that. And my argument to the Russians is – they keep telling me they don’t want to see a civil war, and I have been telling them their policy is going to help contribute to a civil war. So it’s not a satisfactory answer yet, but we’re trying to keep pushing all the pieces together to support Kofi Annan as an independent voice, because the Syrians are not going to listen to us. They will listen maybe to the Russians. So we have to keep pushing them.
MR. LANGKILDE: Okay, guys. Now, it’s your turn. Maybe you want to ask some additional questions about Syria, something else – they can ask about anything, right, Madam Secretary?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, they can. (Laughter.)
MR. LANGKILDE: So we have four mikes. (Inaudible) we have a question over there (inaudible).
QUESTION: Hi. Thank you, Madam Secretary. My name is Cheyenne Ellis, and I’m an American here living in Copenhagen. Prior to moving to Denmark, I worked in Washington, D.C. at the Department of State along with Ambassador Susan Jacobs on parental child abduction cases. However, today my question is on gender balance in the workplace. Recently, the EU has proposed to initiate mandatory quotas to ensure more women are represented in top management positions in European businesses. Do you feel a quota system is necessary to increase more female CEOs? Or do you feel like this is a self-regulating issue which needs no policy managing?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Cheyenne, that’s a question I’ve wrestled with for a long time. I don’t think that there is a right answer to that question, because there does seem to be a glass ceiling in nearly every society, not all of them. I think that you now have a woman prime minister; you have a woman head of state. I’ll be going to Norway and Sweden and Finland, all of whom have had women in the very top positions in government. But even in those four countries, there’s not that level of representation on a sustained basis in the corporate world. So is there some intervention that could encourage businesses to look more broadly to recruit women? I’m sure that there could be. Whether it’s quotas or whether quotas are the right answer, I will leave that debate to the Europeans to decide whether it’s right for them. But certainly, it’s been our experience that it still is more difficult for women to make it to the top in either politics or business in our country. The United States would never go for quotas, but I think there has to be a recognition that, in the absence of a much more self-conscious outreach, for women to be on corporate boards, in the pipeline for corporate leadership positions, it’s not likely to change.
So I’m hoping that as we experiment with this in different parts of the world, we will learn more. And if the EU adopts quotas, I will be very interested in seeing how that works or whether it is unsuccessful because people just flat out resisted. I hope though that we can finally get over what has been a historic gender imbalance in both politics and business because I think in the 21st century, women’s empowerment is one of the most important goals for the world to aim toward. (Applause.)
MR. LANGKILDE: (Inaudible) front left of Ingrid, please.
QUESTION: Hi, my name is (inaudible). I wanted to ask, for a student of international affairs and global politics, whether you believe a future in these areas lie for us whether in the UN or (inaudible) NGOs – that question’s also, which institutions do you think the future of political – global politics will shape?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m glad you’re interested in these areas and I think there are futures in all three of what you said. I think the multilateral organizations are in great need of reform, and young people need to be committed not only to a career but to a reform agenda within the institutions, because I think that they haven’t kept up with the times. I don’t think that they operate as efficiently as they could; they get too bureaucratic, too weighted down by internal process instead of external results.
I think NGOs are a lean, mean way of often intervening, of making your voices heard. One of my goals is to work on civil society in places that have never known civil society and to make it legitimate, to convince governments that having people who advocate for the environment or for children with disabilities or for the arts or for electorate reform is an essential part of the democratic process.
And then government, obviously, I believe strongly that if we’re lucky enough to live in a vibrant democratic society, you can either be totally apathetic, which then leaves the decision-making to people who may disagree with you completely, or you can be an active citizen participating – participant in politics, or you could even go so far as being active in a political party and running for office. It’s hard; I’m not going to sugarcoat it. It’s not easy being in politics anywhere in the world today in any democracies, but I certainly hope that a lot of young people like yourself look at that third alternative as much as the first two.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, if you were 18 again – (laughter) – living in the world as of today with (inaudible) what would you choose to do over?
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s a great question. (Laughter.) Well, I became a lawyer and I practiced law and I did a lot of work on behalf of defending children, abused and neglected children, and working for legislative change on behalf of children, and I always find myself attracted to trying to work on behalf of those who are marginalized or left out. So I would probably do the same thing whether – I mean, I’ve started NGOs, I’ve served on the boards of large NGOs and helped to direct them.
I think there will always be a voice, even in privileged societies like ours, for those who are voiceless. And so I like feeling that maybe I can help make a difference in someone’s life. And then the work around the world is a full agenda, particularly on behalf of women and children. So I think I’d probably be doing something in that area, which is what I was doing before I got into politics.
MR. LANGKILDE: Let’s go to row three here, please.
QUESTION: First of all, it’s a huge honor, Madam Secretary. My name is Anna and I’m a PhD fellow in American studies, and I have a question about Syria. Of course, one of the reasons why the operation in Libya was (inaudible) was because you had the support of other Arab countries. Which role (inaudible) Arab countries will play in the solution of the Syrian problem? And also, you say that the Russians are the main problem why there’s not a sort of solution at international community at this point. Are there other sort of regional and national differences between Syria and Libya that makes it difficult to repeat?
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s a great, great question. There are certainly significant differences. Syria’s much larger, it’s a much more diverse society, so that different groups within Syria are worried about what comes after Assad and are not unified in the way that Libya became. There is a professional military; there was not in Libya. Qadhafi relied on a very small group of military personnel augmented by mercenaries. There was an opposition in Libya that did represent the country. That’s not yet been possible in Syria. We’ve all been working to try to promote that. There was a safe haven that could be operated out of – that Benghazi became – and then you could move west. The air defenses in Syria are significantly tougher than Libya. The Arab League called for action by the Security Council. The Arab League has supported the Kofi Annan mission; they haven’t been united to call for military action yet. And most importantly, the Security Council, in the case of the Libya, was willing to act and then NATO could put together a coalition that was augmented by Arab countries willing to fly the no-fly zone, even carry out strikes. So really, those conditions do not exist with respect to Syria as of yet.
There’s also a lot of regional difficulty or complexity that has to be dealt with. I mean, Jordan is right on the border of Syria; they have to worry about their own territorial integrity and safety. Turkey has that long border. They worry about whether they make themselves more vulnerable to the Kurdish terrorist threat that they are so focused on. You go down the line; it’s quite a difficult set of factors to balance. It’s next door to Lebanon, which as you know, fought a brutal civil war all those years. And the demographics of the population are not so dissimilar except in terms of numbers, but the basic demographics are quite similar between the two countries. We’ve already seen the conflict wash over into Lebanon.
And a lot of people are trying to figure out what could be an effective intervention that wouldn’t cause more death and suffering. And in Libya, partly because it was a small population in a vast expanse, much of it not particularly populated, there was a theater for intervention that was quite successful in avoiding civilian casualties. That seems much more difficult, if not impossible.
Now we’re thinking about all of this. There’s all kinds of civilian and humanitarian and military planning going on. But the factors are just not there.
MR. LANGKILDE: You ask very good questions guys. So thanks for doing my job so well. (Laughter.) Let’s go to the far back left.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) studying financial management and I have recently applied for an internship at New York and that made me research a bit about the American education system. We have a really good one here, but don’t you find that if you (inaudible) caught up in the American youth on the ground that they can’t afford or their parents can’t afford to give them an education?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think it’s one of our biggest domestic challenges. Historically, our public education system worked well enough for the vast majority of Americans. And a relatively small percentage of Americans went to college. But by the end of the 20th century, and certainly now in the 21st century, the disparities in education between our most privileged young people and our poorest has gotten much broader. And the cost of going to college has skyrocketed. So we have increasing numbers of young people who are coming out of college with huge debt.
And it’s really regrettable and there has to be a reckoning about this because we’re not, in my view, providing the best education we should for children who are not in the best of circumstances, and we make post-high school education very expensive, and we don’t have enough of the right sort of skills training, because one of the great ironies in our current economic situation is you can see job postings for thousands of jobs, but we don’t have the people in the places with the skills to take the jobs. So we have to close that gap, and it’s something that I care deeply about. I know President Obama does as well, and we’re going to see what more we can do from the federal government.
Although the final thing I would say on this is much of education starts with the family and requires a combination of encouragement and discipline that families have to provide. And then our education system in public schools is run by local and state government. So our complicated federal system makes change more challenging, but we have to figure out how we’re going to do it.
MR. LANGKILDE: Okay. Let’s go to the front row (inaudible) please. Be careful. We don’t want you to break a leg. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Hi. My name is Senu , and I study law at Copenhagen University. My question is about the International Criminal Court. Your husband, Bill Clinton, he signed the Rome Statute in 2000 and – but the Bush Administration later unsigned it. You seem to have a very positive approach to the ICC. So my question is whether you plan to sign it – re-sign it and ratify the Rome Statute during your time as Secretary of State.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I do think that the ICC is an important tribunal. And I thank you for noticing that we have, in the last three and a half years, increased our involvement with the ICC. The head of our legal department at the State Department is a renowned international lawyer, the former dean of Yale Law School. And we have promoted more exchanges, more discussions, but at this point we know that there would be no appetite in our Congress under current circumstances to ratify America’s membership. So short of that, we’re going to continue to do what we can to support the important work that the ICC does.
MR. LANGKILDE: Madam Secretary, I would like to squeeze in a little question that we also got from a lot of our viewers. We asked on Facebook that they could ask you questions. And thousands of people around the globe, especially women, see you as a role model because you have had a remarkable career from the First Lady, then Senator from New York, and now you’re the Secretary of State. And can you tell us a little bit about how has this journey been for you personally?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, personally, it’s been a surprise because when I was sitting where you would be sitting, I never imagined that I would marry someone who would become a president or that I would be a senator from New York or that I would be a secretary of state. So my journey has been not only surprising, but very gratifying to me. And people ask me all the time if I can give advice. And it’s hard to put yourself in anyone else’s shoes, but I think for both young men and young women, to go back to the previous question, education remains such a passport to any option that you might decide to choose. And it doesn’t always have to be conventional education. I know very successful people – Bill Gates, obviously, dropped out of Harvard, but he was always learning, and he was always alert, and he was always taking in what he was interested in and was able to channel his passion into creative innovation.
So staying involved and aware of what’s going on around you. I also always hope that people develop some sense of social responsibility, that if you’re fortunate enough to be educated, healthy, living in a democracy, having more control over your own life – although it probably doesn’t seem like it from time to time – than the vast majority of people who ever lived in the history of the world have had, then what can you do to give back as well as get ahead?
And for young women, I think that the historic questions remain. How can you have a life and make a living? How can you have relationships? How can you have children and be active in whatever you choose? And it just takes a lot of focus and a decision that you’re going to live your life in a way that meets your aspirations to the best of your ability. And then life happens.
I mean, in my case, I walk across the lounge of Yale Law School and here’s some guy saying, “Not only that, but we grow the biggest watermelons in the world.” And I said, “Who is that?” (Laughter.) And a friend I was with said, “Well, that’s Bill Clinton. He’s from Arkansas, that’s all he ever talks about.” (Laughter.) And I’d never been to Arkansas. Obviously, this was all new to me. And so I took a leap of faith. And I think it worked out pretty well, but it’s – (laughter) – it has been because of choices I made. I tried to be the lead actor, if you will, in my own life and not to be a bit player and not to let things happen to me, but to try to decide how I was going to respond to whatever happened. And you just keep moving forward every single day.
MR. LANGKILDE: Later, I’m going to ask (inaudible) too. (Laughter.) And row four, please (inaudible).
QUESTION: Hello, (inaudible). It’s been really motivating for me to listen (inaudible), and you look so passionate about what you do about your work. My question to you is: Like all in your daily work, what motivates you the most in your daily work?
SECRETARY CLINTON: What, what?
QUESTION: What motivates you?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Motivates me? The hope that I can help somebody solve a problem or alleviate suffering or find a way to a better life. I mean, I get just as motivated by trying to connect up somebody after the earthquake in Haiti with their relatives who were looking for them, and we put together a cell phone network to be able to reconnect people as I do trying to push forward on solving issues arising out of the Arab Awakening or the violence in Central America or all the other issues that I work on every day.
So it’s both the big picture issues that we work on and try to make progress on, but what you need when you’re working on what often are intractable problems are some of the day-to-day successes that will never make headlines, but which are gratifying. And you know because of the position you’re in, you can make things happen. So that’s very motivating to me.
MR. LANGKILDE: Let’s go over here, please.
QUESTION: My name is Zena. I have a question about being a woman in the highest level of foreign policy. Did you believe that it changes foreign policy outcomes when there are more women around the negotiating tables? And if so, how?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’ve thought a lot about that. And I don’t know that there’s any empirical evidence that would prove that, but I certainly feel it. Most of the time, I’m the only woman at the negotiating table. And I do try to raise issues and I always talk about women’s rights and I always tell every audience and every male leader I’m with, “Well, you knew I was going to say this, but what is this going to mean for women and for children?”
And when I work with other high-level women in the international affairs, like the High Representative of the European Union Cathy Ashton, there’s a shorthand, in a way, as to what we’re trying to achieve and how we can perhaps work together to do that.
I also am a very strong believer that the women I know who have achieved the head of state or head of government generally, not always, but generally will be more responsive to a lot of the human needs. When my friend Ellen Johnson Sirleaf became president of Liberia and inherited a country ruined by horrific civil war and warlordism, she was elected because the market women in the country, Christian and Muslim alike, said enough of war and literally forced the men to the negotiating table. And there’s a wonderful documentary about this called Pray the Devil Back to Hell, if you can pull it up on the internet, because it was perfect example of women saying enough.
Or when there was a recent negotiation over how to end the long conflict in Darfur, the men in the room spent days arguing over who would get territory around a certain river. And a woman outside the door said, “That river’s been dry for years,” because it wasn’t men that went looking for water, it was women. And so there are so many insights that I view as coming from practical, everyday experience, that men bring their own, but women bring ours. And I don't see how we can make the best decisions unless there is literally a meeting of the minds, which is why I really welcome more women involved in these discussions. And I think the substance is more likely to reflect the everyday needs of the people who are most at risk in the resolution of any kind of dispute.
MR. LANGKILDE: Yeah. Let’s go to the left back, please.
QUESTION: Hello, Madam. I am Judy, student from (inaudible) University. My question is right in this conversation right now. You started by acknowledging and complimenting a lot of the strengths here in Denmark and our society here. When you recently – it was a few years ago, the last time you were here, there was a Danish female minister of foreign affairs, and I guess representatives from Canada, Russia, and Denmark states, and had a discussion about the Arctic area. This lady in this situation made a decision to prioritize family versus that meeting. I’m sure people in your positions are always having to make difficult choices, and I wanted to ask you does the work life balance exist on your level of leadership or, I mean, as a role model for future generations, is it something you should just say that okay, throw out the baby with the bathwater, if you want to be at that level, your husband has to be your wife or – (laughter) – can you say anything about them making those kind of difficult situations and – yes.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. Well, I – look, there’s a double standard for women in the public eye. That’s just a fact. And it’s something that’s getting somewhat better because people are more conscious of it. But it is certainly a challenge for young women with small children or with teenagers, which sometimes feel like the same. (Laughter.) So when you are trying to really balance your family obligations with any work, but particularly work in the public eye, particularly at a very high level of stress and involvement, it takes enormous amounts of organization; it takes very supportive family members, in particular your spouse, to work out what the scheduling and all of that will be.
But I would hate to see any young woman who wants to have a family decide she could not do that because she also wants to have a career. I think that would be a terrible mistake. That’s just me, personally. If you don’t want to, that’s your choice, and I fully support it. But if you want to and you think you can’t do it or you can’t manage it because you also want a career, you have to accept the fact you’re going to have to make some kind of accommodation if you wish to be the best mother you can be as well as fulfill the obligations of your profession.
And I will be very honest with you. I mean, when my daughter was young, my husband was the governor of Arkansas, and I practiced law, but nothing at the level or intensity of what I did after she was older. And that was my choice. I have a lot of women whom I know who are the most superb balancers in the world and they manage everything. But I knew that for me focusing on my daughter during those early years was something I wanted to do and that I believed was my first priority. So as she got older, unfortunately, I’m not as needed. (Laughter.) I used to sit around the White House waiting for a sighting. (Laughter.) I did have a lot more time and a lot more freedom and could run for the Senate, could run for the presidency, could be a Secretary of State.
That is one of the advantages of being a woman in the 21st century is if you take care of yourself you have a lot of options that our mothers and grandmothers could never have dreamed of. So I think you’ve got to figure out your own balance, but don’t make a decision that you can’t do one or the other until you try to see if you can find that balance.
MR. LANGKILDE: Now that you mention it, Madam Secretary, that you ran for President.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I did.
MR. LANGKILDE: Yeah. (Laughter.) And that leads me to my – (applause.) I think if we ran a quick vote in here you would be elected. (Laughter.) But my question is you said in January that you’re not going to continue as a Secretary of State, even though President Obama would get a second term. And that leads to two (inaudible). What are you going to do then? And can you rule out the possibility that you could run for President in 2016?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. I said that many times. I’m really looking forward to pursuing other interests that I have. I’ve been so honored to serve with President Obama and feel incredibly privileged that I served at a time with so much change. The chapter has yet to be written about what the conclusions of all this change will turn out to be. But I also think that, for me, I’ve been at the highest levels of American political life for 20 years, and I would like to be able to just take a long walk. (Laughter.) I’d like to be able to just travel without having a lot of official meetings associated with it. I’m just looking forward to exhaling and seeing what else lies ahead.
And I’ve always been actively involved in philanthropic work, not-for-profit work. I want to continue doing that with an emphasis on obviously women and children. For me, do some writing, do some speaking. I’m looking forward to it. And who knows what I’ll end up doing, but I’m excited for the possibilities.
MR. LANGKILDE: And when you come back to Denmark as a private citizen we will all be happy to give you a holiday that --
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s nice. Would you please (inaudible?) (Laughter.)
MR. LANGKILDE: We will.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Because I look at the map, and there’s so many interesting places that you all are from. I was talking to the foreign minister about that earlier. And I have the great honor of being received by Her Majesty, the Queen. And this is just, to me, a fascinating country, so I am going to come back at some point, incognito. (Laughter.) If you see me on the street don’t – I won’t look at you. (Laughter.)
MR. LANGKILDE: We’re running a little close to the end, Madam Secretary, but if you’re up for it, one more question.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Sure.
MR. LANGKILDE: Let’s go – let’s try, if it’s physically possible, to go to row two then.
QUESTION: Hello, Madam Secretary. Thanks so much for doing this. My name’s (inaudible). My question is regarding female reproductive health in the American healthcare system. I know you’re very passionate about healthcare, but this is a more personal question. Recently there has been a lot of debate about female reproductive healthcare, not just on the presidential election level but also inside of congressional hearings. It’s been pretty shocking, especially seeing as Roe v. Wade was so long ago, and it’s seen as a war we’ve already fought and then it feels like we’re fighting it again. Do you think that these debates being held diminishes America’s right to position itself as a leader of civil rights and to be seen as such?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, you’re right. There has been, and continues to be, a debate over abortion coming out of the Roe v. Wade decision – of course preceding that, but most intensely since then. And there has been a very concerted effort to undermine what we call a woman’s right to choose, which I have always supported.
But it – the debate has now taken another turn, which is to make contraception debatable. And that, to me, is really a regrettable development. The debate is over whether the comprehensive healthcare reform that President Obama championed and that was passed by Congress will include insurance for women’s reproductive health, including contraception. And the evidence on the benefits for contraception is overwhelmingly clear in the way that it does protect women’s health, it does prevent unwanted pregnancies, and also enables women who shouldn’t – for physical or mental reasons – become pregnant avoid doing so. It shouldn’t be debatable, but the debate is over whether taxpayer dollars should go to subsidized health plans that provide contraception. And it is a political debate.
I don’t think it should or does affect our strong reputation and support for civil rights, but it is something that we’re going to have to continue to contest within our political system. And it is troubling to me because it seems so focused on poor women, because middle class and upper income women will provide for their own healthcare. But if you’re a young student, if you’re a working mother, if you are someone who doesn’t have the financial means to afford contraception, the first thing is to be covered by healthcare insurance – which is the Democratic party position – that covers everyone and then to have what you need at every state in your life included. So it’s reflective of an ongoing debate within our political system, and we’re going to have to, as you have debates within your political system, keep working it out. And in a democracy hopefully people will make the right decision.
MR. LANGKILDE: That’s it, guys. Thanks for all of your – (applause). I actually – I forgot. We have two more minutes left, only two. Make it one minute and 58 seconds. (Laughter.) And I want to thank you for all your great questions. And I want to thank The Black Diamond for hosting us. And I want to say thank you to all our viewers on TV2 News and also our international viewers. And I then I want use the honor and the privilege of asking the last question. And I want to thank you so much for making this possible, for making this visit possible, and for being here.
And as mentioned, the chairs – an iconic man once sat in this chair – well, not this chair, but a similar chair – (laughter) – and a man with a great legacy. What would you, Madam Secretary, want your legacy to be?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I would hope I’d have a few more years to keep working on it. But --
MR. LANGKILDE: Professional legacy.
SECRETARY CLINTON: My professional legacy that I tried in every way I could and every role that I had to serve my country and humanity. I mean, that is what I believe in. And I’m absolutely convinced that one person can make a difference inside or outside of government and that I certainly have had the honor of trying and hope I’ve succeed to some extent.
MR. LANGKILDE: I think many people think you have. Thank you so much, Madam Secretary, for being here, and I wish you the best of luck and a very successful stay in Denmark, and I would love to see you back.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. (Applause.)