U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a news conference in Beijing May 4, 2012. Clinton said on Friday that the U.S. Ambassador in Beijing had spoken to the blind Chinese rights activist Chen Guangcheng, and was encouraged by China's statement that Chen might be allowed to study abroad. (Photo: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said during a speech on Thursday at Dublin City University in Ireland that she is "greatly pained" to see the treatment of women around the world, as she gets ready to step down from her position.
"As the mother of a daughter, and as someone who believes strongly in the right of every person, male and female, to have the opportunity to live up to his or her God-given potential," Clinton said at the event. "It pains me so greatly when I travel to places around the world and am received almost as an exception to the rule, where the male leaders meet with me because I am the secretary of state of the United States, overlooking the fact that I also happen to be a woman."
At the event, Clinton was presented with an humanitarian award from the non-governmental organization Concern Worldwide.
"We are on the right side of history in this struggle, but there will be many sacrifices and losses until we finally reach a point where daughters are valued as sons, where girls as educated as boys, where women are encouraged and permitted to make their contributions to their families, to their societies just as the men are," the secretary of state added, according to an NBC report.
Clinton admitted that she is both an idealist and a realist, and said that much more needs to be done to advance the rights of women across the globe. She pointed out the case of Pakistani school girl Malala Yousufzai, who was shot earlier this year by Taliban gunmen for her outspoken beliefs that girls should receive an education.
"All of us were moved by the story of the young Pakistani girl, Malala, who was targeted by the Taliban for the effrontery for going to school -- more than that, speaking out for the rights of girls in Pakistan to go to school," Clinton said, noting that despite the attack the girl was making an "excellent recovery."
"For every young woman whose name comes to our attention, there are countless others who suffer in silence, who face cultural and social and religious barriers to their human rights and dignity."
The secretary of state added that she has seen many things in her travels around the world, and has talked with people from all walks of life. "It doesn't take long to find commonality which is often overlooked, ignored, dismissed, and rejected otherwise," she said.
Clinton is scheduled to travel to Northern Ireland on Friday and call for peace in the region, which was recently unsettled by rioting and a bomb threat, Reuters reported. The British nation remains divided by sectarian tensions and citizens live in threat of militant nationalists who have targeted government intuitions in the last couple of decades.
Back in October, Clinton took responsibility for the Sept. 11 attacks in Libya that killed a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans after an Islamist mob rioted and stormed the U.S. embassy.
"I take responsibility," Clinton told CNN, citing intelligence failure and insisting the White House administration should not be blamed. "I want to avoid some kind of political gotcha."
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