In a fitting show of solidarity for International Women's Day, First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made light of the brutal 2008 battle Clinton conducted to defeat Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination. As Michelle Obama launched a State Department commemoration of International Women's Day, she briefly stumbled over Clinton's job title. "Let me thank my dear friend, Senator - Secretary Clinton. I almost said, 'President Clinton,' " said the first lady to laughter and applause. "But let me thank you for that kind introduction, and most of all thank you for your friendship, thank you for your support, and thank you for your indispensable advice in getting me through this first year and helping me figure out how to get my family settled in our new life in D.C."
The exchange stood as another rebuke to a favored theme of the Beltway pundit set: that tensions between the Obamas and the Secretary of State still run high. More than that, though, the series of events that the first lady presided over drew wider attention to the stubborn lags in gender equality beyond the developed Western world. Both women stressed this issue in their respective speeches. As Secretary Clinton put it, the world "can't solve problems of financial crisis, climate change, disease and poverty if half of the population is left behind."