US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has hailed Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa as a "wonderful woman who is viewed as a leader around the world".
At a closed door interaction with the members of Working Women's Forum (WWF) on Wednesday night, excerpts of which were released on Thursday, Clinton said: "I want to thank my friend and your friend, a wonderful woman who is viewed as a leader around the world, Jaya."
Appreciating the self help group and panchayat members for their work in promoting democracy, Clinton said, referring to the chief minister: "This is a woman who has worked so hard. And all of you will have to decide how you can follow her model, so that you not only help yourselves and your families but you spread the word about microfinance, about bank accounts, about starting businesses, about getting health services, about empowering the women of this state, and giving everyone a chance to live up to your god-given potential."
Clinton, who arrived in New Delhi on Tuesday and flew down to Chennai for her maiden visit the next day, said she is honoured to celebrate the accomplishments of WWF in bringing micro-credit, healthcare and other services.
She said Goldman Sachs, a global financial company, has decided to support a training programme through the Indian School of Business to help self-help groups bring even more knowledge and skills about how to take their businesses from the very local village level to the cities and the rest of the world.
Clinton said the US and the Indian government will establish a regional training programme at the Asia University of Women to spotlight the success of the panchayat programme, and train more women to be local leaders.