Hillary Clinton is well known for her statement that "women's rights are human rights." So it would seem that the last place she would expect resistance to her foreign policy agenda would be from women's rights organizations.
Heading into what she insists will be her last year as Secretary of State, Clinton has improved the lives of women around the world, made gender a centerpiece of U.S. foreign policy, and spread the message that developing countries should promote gender equality to unleash economic growth.
In working to "increase women's economic opportunities," however, Clinton runs the risk of undermining her women's rights agenda. Unfortunately, all too often "economic opportunity" translates to "working in a sweatshop" or in some cases, others forms of exploitation.
Although rights' advocates have welcomed the attention that Clinton has brought to gender equality, many have objected to her "focus on promoting women as vehicles of economic growth, rather than rights holders." A statement issued by a group of such dissenters at a recent Forum on Aid Effectiveness in South Korea -- which included the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), the Association for Women's Rights in Development, and the African Women's Development and Communication Network -- read:
We are not able to endorse... [Clinton's plan because it] does not sufficiently promote the enjoyment of fundamental human rights and substantive equality... Women's rights will not be fully enjoyed by women... simply by facilitating entrepreneurship of women.