JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight, speaking of women, essayist Richard Rodriguez considers women on the move all over the world.
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, former secretary of State: I, Madeleine Korbel Albright...
RICHARD RODRIGUEZ, NewsHour essayist: In 1996, President Bill Clinton appointed Madeleine Albright as secretary of state. Because of Madeleine Albright, because of Condoleezza Rice who came soon after, because of Hillary Clinton, we scarcely mark the gender revolution that has taken place in just over a decade.
HILLARY CLINTON, secretary of State: So help me God.
RICHARD RODRIGUEZ: Today, the diplomatic face of America is a woman's face. All over the world, women and girls are on the move.
In Pakistani and Afghan villages, girls make their way to school, sometimes furtively, wary of boys or men who might splash them with acid for daring to learn to read and to write.
In the last half-century, hundreds of thousands of Mexican women have left their villages to find jobs in America or to work in Mexican border town assembly plants.
In Juarez, hundreds of women who ventured into the world alone have been murdered. The world remains a dangerous place for women.
Even so, at U.S. colleges, female students are signing up for study-abroad programs by a 2-to-1 ratio over males. Indeed, female students, many the daughters and granddaughters of women who did not assume college in their lives, now outnumber male students on American campuses.
In American legend, as in so many of the world's myths, it is the young man who leaves home to find gold or slay the dragon. Lewis and Clark are paradigmatic American explorers, blazing a trail from St. Louis to the Pacific Coast. But as it happened, they were led up the Missouri River and across the Rockies by a Shoshone Indian. Her name was Sacagawea.
In the Americas, there were other stories like hers, native women who became go-betweens, translators, even lovers of the foreign.
In colonial Virginia, Pocahontas left her tribe to marry an Englishman, and she traveled with him to London to become a figure in history.
In Mexico, male history still reviled Marina, La Malinche, as a sexual traitor. She was an Indian woman who became the lover of the Spaniard Cortez. Marina conspired with Cortez against the Aztecs who had imprisoned her own tribe.