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Diplomacy in Action

Interview With Seanice Kacungira of Capital FM


Interview
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Nairobi, Kenya
August 6, 2009

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QUESTION: It’s a pleasure to meet you. Hope you’re enjoying your stay in Kenya. And the first question that all my listeners want to know: What drives Hillary Rodham Clinton?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first let me say that I am very much enjoying my visit in Kenya. I only wish it were longer. And it’s been like a wonderful appetizer, so I will have to come back for the full meal and see more of the country. And I am very excited by the potential to deepen and strengthen our partnership and friendship, which goes back 50 years, for President Obama, who is a son of Kenya, to be able to help Kenya move towards fulfilling its potential. And I wanted to come to Africa and take an extended trip early in my term because I think Africa is such an important place of the future.

QUESTION: Mm-hmm. Okay. (Inaudible) African countries continue to (inaudible) development goals, yet the majority of citizens (inaudible) of poverty. And (inaudible) majority tend to be women and youth, who would like to create joint ventures and bridge partnerships with relevant groups in the U.S. (inaudible) create more jobs, create opportunities, as well as revenue from the potential (inaudible). How can help? How can you reach these people instead of only accessing the top guns – you know, the presidents and the ministers?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, even on this trip, I have had a very productive and mixed agenda of meetings. Of course, I have met with people in government, people in the parliament. But I have also met with women working to improve productivity on farms in Kenya which, as you know, really affect women since women are 70 percent of the farmers in Kenya, as in the rest of Africa.

I had a chance to do a town hall meeting at Nairobi University, and took questions from the audience, which was predominantly young people, because there’s a great desire on my part and that of President Obama’s to reach the next generation, to encourage young people to really work for their country to improve the conditions. And certainly, I’ve met with women who are part of a group called Vital Voices. I’ve met with women who are providing micro-financing to women in (inaudible) and elsewhere.

And I think it’s important to send a message that we understand that our relationship is not government-to-government. It is people-to-people, it is nation-to-nation. And no government can be successful if women are left out and marginalized, if young people are not given an education and an opportunity to fulfill their own God-given potential.

QUESTION: Okay. From AGOA, what can we do now to creatively and greatly improve the life of Kenyans and Africans?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, AGOA is a tool, but it is underutilized. There are more than 600 – there are 6,900 items that can be exported duty free into the United States. And I don’t think that any country – not just Kenya, but any African country – has realized the full potential of AGOA. So we want to provide more technical assistance and support so that businesses here in Kenya can grow and have access to our market.

QUESTION: Okay. Please comment on the compensation of the 1998 bombing victims. How many have been compensated, and what will be done about those who were not compensated?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I don’t have those numbers in my head. Some have. I know that we feel very strongly that the suffering and the losses that were experienced are deeply regrettable and deplorable. And I visited the memorial this morning and met a lot of the survivors. And the foreign minister who was accompanying me said that the Government of Kenya would also do more. So we’re going to try to continue to assist those who were directly affected.

QUESTION: Okay. At the height of post-election violence in Kenya, the U.S. was very vocal about Kenyan leaders towing the line. Do you feel this time around you’ve been a bit more lenient, especially in recommending a local tribunal?

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, I don’t believe so at all. I think if you listen to everything I’ve said in my press conferences and particularly at the town hall at the University of Nairobi, I have been very straightforward and very tough in setting forth our expectations about what the government should do on a reform agenda – a new constitution, reforming elections, police systems, the judiciary and so much more.

But I did want to explore, and, frankly, challenge, both the people and the government as to what is the route that is going to be taken to hold people accountable for the post-election violence. I feel very strongly there has to be accountability and there has to be, where appropriate, prosecutions. And that has not happened.

And the local approach is usually preferable because people feel then that they are acting in a way that is commensurate with their values and their national interests. But I’m hearing from people in Kenya is that no one thinks that the local route will work, that they can’t get a special tribunal that is independent and able to stand up against impunity. That only leaves the International Criminal Court. And as you know, that has been the recommendation of some of civil society, including the Waki Commission, and that ten names have been turned over to the ICC. If the people of Kenya and the government cannot come up with a fair, acceptable approach to hold people accountable, then I believe you will see the referral to the ICC.

QUESTION: Okay. Last, but not least, your daughter is getting married (inaudible). (Laughter.) What a very public figure. First of all, the offer is still on the table, by the way (inaudible). (Laughter.) So it was too late. And as a public figure, what advice do you have for other women taking the plunge, getting married?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, there’s nothing official about my daughter. She will make up her own mind in her own time. And I was very pleased to receive the offer that was passed on to me, which I will pass on to her.

But seriously, I think the role that women have to play in any society is so critical, and it’s particularly critical in Africa, where too many women are impoverished, they’re marginalized, they’re unable to really obtain the tools of education and healthcare for themselves and their children, and then it perpetuates dependency, it perpetuates the cycle of poverty. And that’s especially important because women are the tools and the real drivers of change in their own families. I mean, there’s that old saying: You educate a man, you educate a man; you educate a woman, you educate a family.

And the World Bank and other economists have said over and over again that if you want to jumpstart development, then give the tools to your women who are underutilized. A lot of men are already able to exercise their income-generating capacity, and women are held down and held back. So I think we have to provide opportunities for women. We have to respect the rights and roles and responsibilities that women should have. And then the best outcome is for individual women to be prepared and equipped to make decisions that are right for them. If they want to be a broadcaster on the radio, then that should be a decision. If they want to devote themselves to their families and their children, that should be the decision. But if they want to balance family and work, which is what most women who have the opportunity to do so actually do in today’s world, then that should be what we aim for – to give women the choices that will enable them to lead the lives that will be productive.

QUESTION: God bless you. Thank you so much for taking this – more time.




PRN: 2009/T11-11



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