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The potential in Hillary Clinton's global campaign for women

No other secretary of State has so focused on women's rights. It's a powerful shift.

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When Hillary Rodham Clinton traveled to Africa last month, she visited war-racked eastern Congo to speak out against widespread rape by militias. She choked up after meeting with two rape victims and promised more US help – $17 million for medical treatment and security for victims.

Now she's taking the issue to the United Nations, where the US is leading an effort to shore up a resolution to end sexual violence against civilians during armed conflict. The Security Council passed Resolution 1820 last year, but follow through is sorely lacking.

Women's rights are becoming a signature issue for America's top diplomat. In her official travels, Mrs. Clinton talks with women, meets with female activists, and presses the twin challenges of women's rights and abuse with political leaders. She wants US development aid to focus more on women, and has appointed the first US ambassador for global women's issues.

The Bush administration, too, championed women's rights, especially in Muslim countries such as Afghanistan. But no secretary of State has sought to make women as high a priority as Clinton is attempting. It's a potentially powerful shift. If she can pull it off.

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