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Women who want to make it big cannot be mediocre: Albright

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

75-year-old Albright, a Czech-born refugee who rose to become US's first woman Secretary of State, said she used to feel unhappy when women themselves became judgemental about the capabilities of their peers.

Interacting with students of 'The Young India Fellowship Programme' here, she said, "There is a place for mediocre men in this world but not for mediocre women.

"If a woman wants to make it big in her life, she can't afford to be a mediocre one. Being extraordinary is the stage where a woman's journey begins," she said.

Albright, who was recently awarded US's highest civilian honour Presidential Medal of Freedom, advised the students to feel strongly for their interests.

"I never had a fixed plan for both my personal and professional lives but I always knew what I was interested in. Youth today should also identify and follow their interests and the rest of the journey will itself fall into place," she said.

Talking about the obstacles she had to face in her journey from being a refugee in America to a diplomat in White House, she said she returned to Washington in 1968 and started working on her PhD in Columbia University.

"There is a difference of ten years between my career and chronological age which impacted my PhD as compared to peers and my PhD was a delayed one," she said.

Talking about her personal and political life, she said her efforts to raise funds for her daughters' education led her to several positions on education boards.

Albright was initially asked to organise a fund raising dinner for the presidential campaign of then US Senator Ed Muskie and she said, "this association with Muskie helped me in getting the position of chief legislative assistant.

"However after then US Presidential elections (in 1976) one of my former professors was appointed the National Security Advisor, and he recruited me as the National Security Council's congressional liaison in the West Wing," she said.

Albright, who was undergoing the trauma of having lost her daughter Alice then, was employed to handle a new administration in National Security Council followed by her nomination for the US Ambassador to the United Nations by Bill Clinton in 1993.

"What used to make me unhappy was that the people who were being judgemental about me being capable of or not were women," she said.

On balancing career and family life, she said, "I always believed that there is a special place for such women in hell who choose career over kids or vice versa. Why not strike a balance between the two."


First Published: Tue, June 26 2012. 14:05 IST