Dynamic Business Women Form "Supportive Community"

Posted by Bonnie Gutman
March 4, 2009
Secretary Clinton Joins Members of Svivat Tomechet

Interactive Travel Map | Text the SecretaryAbout the Author: Bonnie Gutman serves as Cultural Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv.

Secretary Clinton just met with women from an exciting Israeli NGO founded by women to help women from all sectors of society in their economic and social integration into the Israeli mainstream. The group, Svivat Tomechet, which translates into “Supportive Community,” has assisted more than 1,600 women from a cross section of Israeli society with entrepreneurship and business-related programs since it was established in 2003. Two of the women who met the Secretary – one born in Russia, one emigrated from Ethiopia – had completed courses at Svivat Tomechet and now run profitable businesses.

I was asked to moderate the session for the Secretary with this collection of remarkable women. What a thrill! To welcome the Secretary into the room, introduce her to the women, and facilitate a half-hour discussion to brief her on various aspects of women’s empowerment in Israel, including her special interest – microfinance – was a career highlight. The Secretary was engaged and engaging as she asked and interacted with each of her guests, mentioning each participant by name. I was torn between focusing on her uplifting words of support for this group and others like it, and composing my next thought as moderator.

Backed by our Embassy’s experienced Public Affairs team – Ellen, Will, Matty, David, Ziv, Stewart, Andy – as well as the Secretary’s Washington-based Public Affairs team, the event demonstrated the impact of public diplomacy programs.

The session was particularly relevant for me, as I had owned and run a small public relations company before joining the Foreign Service. In this session, I was back with dynamic women of business, hearing the Secretary relate their aspirations and achievements to the work I now do in Embassy Tel Aviv. Full circle in a day. Pretty cool, huh?



Susan C.
Rhode Island, USA
March 9, 2009

Susan in Rhode Island writes:

I am so proud to have Hillary Clinton as our Secretary of State. Keeping women's issues front and center is good for the world.

Jennifer S.
West Virginia, USA
March 9, 2009

Jennifer in West Virginia writes:

That is cool, Bonnie! I remember that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was keenly interested in micro-loans for women when she was first lady. In fact, didn't she give the keynote address at the first-ever Microcredit Summit in 1997?

Can you share what you told her about the role of microfinance as a method to empower women in Israel? Who provides the financing? What sorts of businesses and projects have grown from these micro-credit programs? How can others get involved -- perhaps those who might like to contribute to a microfinance project?

Thank you for your post! It's fascinating to hear about diplomacy from a different point of view -- not just from the media.

Best wishes.

New Jersey, USA
March 4, 2009

Rosemary in New Jersey writes:

Lucky you, Bonnie! Hillary is awesome, isn't she?

I love to hear stories like yours about her meeting people outside officialdom. How well-received she is! Thanks for posting this story and for being her moderator at this event. I envy you that half hour, but I'm happy you had this chance and shared it with all of us.

Connecticut, USA
March 4, 2009

Terry in Connecticut writes:

As a man i respect Secretary Hillary Clinton support for women's rights and issues around the world. Thanks for posting.

Tommye J.
Texas, USA
March 5, 2009

Tommye Jean in Texas writes:

I love when Madame Secretary visits with real people in the countries that she visits. She is personalizing our country and the countries she visits. Such a difference!

I know she is doing an outstanding job, opening doors and dialogue. I envy and appreciate your career in Foreign Service.

California, USA
March 5, 2009

Wendy in California writes:

Dear Ms. Gutman,

Very cool indeed.

Just out of curiosity where in physical fact is the translator in such an event? I see the headphones.

I think these "public diplomacy" programs are the absolute hub of the dynamic to change America's image and fact in the world.

These women sure sound like Margaret Mead's "Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. It's the only thing that ever has."

Thank you, Sec State Hillary, & all the State Team for your unflagging commitment to a more luminous EarthVuravuraJeegoo.

Ed J.
March 5, 2009

Ed J. writes:

Thank you to Secretary Clinton for all her hard work. It is appreciated. And thank you to the State Department for the great job increasing their online tools and options. Most of all, thank you to Ms. Gutman for blogging about the above.

District Of Columbia, USA
March 9, 2009

DipNote Blogger Bonnie Gutman in Israel writes:

@ Ed J. -- Thank you -- it was my pleasure -- and my very first blog!

@ Wendy in California -- Yes, we do have a translator. In this case, she was sitting in another room, watching us by closed circuit tv. The technology was amazing, but the skills of the translators who translate instantaneously is phenomenal. Thank you for writing!

@ Tommye Jean in Texas -- the Foreign Service is a wonderful career! And it is open to everyone. Check out www.careers.state. gov for more info.

@ Terry in Connecticut -- thank you for your thoughts, and support.

@ Rosemary in Virginia -- thank you! Maybe we'll meet again in cyberspace.

@ Jennifer in West Virginia -- Secretary Clinton did address the 1997 Microcredit Summit Campaign in Washington, DC. Hageet Rubinstein who answered the questions on microfinance responded in English. You can find the transcript at http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2009a/03/119974.htm. Thank you for your thoughtful questions.

@ Susan in Rhode Island -- I agree whole heartedly.


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