Cover Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright delivers remarks on the second day of the 2016 Democratic National Convention. (Photo: Getty Images)

In the wake of her passing at age 84 after a battle with cancer, we look to the former US secretary of state's most illuminating aphorisms

Madeleine Albright, the first woman to be appointed secretary of state in the US, has died. The 84-year-old passed away on March 23, 2022 after a battle with cancer.

“We are heartbroken to announce that Dr Madeleine Albright, the 64th US secretary of state and the first woman to hold that position, passed away earlier today,” tweeted Albright's family on her official Twitter account. “She was surrounded by family and friends. We have lost a loving mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend.”

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The loss of this tough-talking diplomat and powerful feminist is certainly one that will be felt considering her great political and social contributions.

Albright, who was born in Smichhov, Prague, escaped to London after the Nazis occupied Czechoslovakia in 1939. After the war, her family returned to Czechoslovakia. Unfortunately, her family was forced to flee again when the Communists took over. They were later given political asylum in Denver, Colorado.

At the age of 20, Albright became an American citizen in 1957. She graduated from Wellesley College and later got her master’s degree and PhD in public law and government from Columbia University.

In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed Albright to be ambassador to the United Nations. She was then nominated to be the first woman US secretary of state in 1996.

Albright was devoted to her goal of advancing peace in the Middle East and advocated for human rights fervently. Her work was so significant that in 2012 President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honour.

Considering her work and her impact, we revisit some of Albright’s most inspiring and iconic quotes.

On gaining a voice of power

“It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.”

On a woman being multitaskers

“Women can’t do everything at the same time, we need to understand milestones in our lives come in segments.”

On different leadership styles

“I think women are really good at making friends and not good at networking. Men are good at networking and not necessarily making friends. That’s a gross generalisation, but I think it holds in many ways.”

On women in leadership

“I do not believe that the world would be entirely different if there were more women leaders. Maybe if everybody in leadership was a woman, you might not get into the conflicts in the first place. But if you watch the women who have made it to the top, they haven’t exactly been non-aggressive–including me.”

On seeing things from another's perspective

“I do believe that in order to be a successful negotiator that as a diplomat, you have to be able to put yourself into the other person’s shoes. Unless you can understand what is motivating them, you are never going to be able to figure out how to solve a particular problem.”

On what it means to do good in the world

“I think that we all know what evil is. We have a sense of what’s evil, and certainly killing innocent people is evil. We’re less sure about what is good. There’s sort of good, good enough, could be better–but absolute good is a little harder to define.”

On being happy

“Life is grim, and we don’t have to be grim all the time.”

On dealing with differences

“We need a recognition that things are different, that we are dealing with problems that require international cooperation. I would make sure we talk to people with whom we disagree and try to understand where they're coming from, not just tolerate them, but figure out what is motivating them.”

On women helping women

“I think what needs to happen is we need to help each other. And my motto is that there's a special place in hell for women who don't help each other.”

On being a good leader

“As a leader, you have to have the ability to assimilate new information and understand that there might be a different view.”


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