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Advice for Secretary Kerry on International Women's Day

As he marks his first International Women's Day as America's secretary of State, here are three areas where John Kerry can advance Hillary Rodham Clinton's work over the past four years on behalf of women and girls.

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Then-Sen. John Kerry is greeted by then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Capitol Hill Jan. 24 before his confirmation hearing. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) of Mass. looks on. Op-ed contributor Ambassador Melanne Verveer says 'Kerry can galvanize governments...around the world to join in the work of advancing women, in fighting gender-based violence, and ensuring the peaceful and prosperous world we all seek.'

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

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On his first day in office, Secretary of State John Kerry joked that he had “some big heels to fill,” referring to the fact that he was succeeding Hillary Rodham Clinton. And there's no doubt those heels are indeed very big when it comes to Secretary Clinton’s efforts to ensure that advancing the status and protecting the rights of women worldwide became a cornerstone of US foreign policy, and essential to the work of the State Department. 

But as he marks his first International Women's Day as America's secretary of State, I am confident that Mr. Kerry is more than committed to following in Ms. Clinton’s footsteps. And I am hopeful that he will seize the opportunity to make his own large footprint in promoting global women’s issues though US foreign policy.

Over the last four years at the State Department, we worked to ensure that women’s issues were not just special-interest issues relegated to a tiny office but fully integrated into the everyday work of America's diplomats. The officials working in Washington and in US embassies around the world know that we cannot tackle challenges to security, the economy, democratic governance, the environment, and more unless women are participating at all levels of society.

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