Today at Tina Brown's Women in the World summit, presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took the stage to reaffirm her commitment to women's and girl's rights, and outlined what will likely be her talking points on women, girls, and minorities as she travels the country trying to gain voter support in the coming months.
"It's not just enough for some women to get ahead," Clinton said, adding that all women need support, "no matter where you live and who you are".
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Clinton outlined issues facing women from birth through retirement, noting that "all the evidence tells us that despite the enormous obstacles that remain, there has never been a better time in history to be born female." But when women enter the workforce, she said, they face a pay gap, which is particularly wide for women of color. She pointed to the recent Hobby Lobby Supreme Court decision to assert that a woman's boss should not determine what kind of health care she can access. Sexual assault on college campuses and in the military remains a pressing issue in need of legislative solutions, Clinton said. And she criticized discrimination in retirement benefits, saying, "When we deny women access to retirement that is secure, when we continue as we do to discriminate against women in the Social Security system, we are leaving too many women on their own."
The way forward, Clinton said – and presumably what she will campaign on – is to embrace those who have long been marginalized in American society.
"We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced as our colleagues and friends, not fired from good jobs because of who they love and who they are," she said. Immigrants too, Clinton said, need protections and a path to citizenship. Striking a populist tone, Clinton highlighted economic inequality and the value of closing the wage gap – not just for women and their families, but for the U.S. economy as a whole.
Tina Brown's Women in the World is a global conference, and Clinton emphasized her longtime advocacy for international women's rights. She famously spoke at the 1995 Beijing conference on women's rights, where she declared that "women's rights are human rights once and for all." And at Women in the World today, she not only focused heavily on a domestic agenda centered on women's rights, but mentioned her Beijing work, saying that when she gave her speech back in 1995, 189 countries came together to declare that "human rights are women rights and women rights are human rights, once and for all. And finally, the world began to listen."
But, Clinton said, "Despite all this progress, we're just not there yet. Yes, we've nearly closed the global gender gap in primary school, but secondary school remains out of reach for so many girls around the world. Yes, we've increased the number of countries prohibiting domestic violence, but still more than half the nations in the world have no such laws on the books, and an estimated one in three women still experience violence. Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health care and safe childbirth."
Clinton announced her run for president earlier this month and is the presumptive Democratic nominee. But when she sought the Democratic nomination for president in 2008, she moved away from her women's rights bona fides, staking out a more gender-neutral position.
Now, running again eight years later, Clinton may be more inclined to embrace her potentially historic role as the first female candidate for president from a major political party. A month before she announced her intent to run, Clinton gave the keynote speech at the anniversary gala of EMILY's List, an organization that raises money for pro-choice female politicians.
The Women in the World speech focused on women and girls, handily avoiding any mention ofallegations of inappropriate relationships between governments Clinton dealt with at the State Department and her family's nonprofit, the Clinton Foundation. Those allegations originated in a book called Clinton Cash written by a Republican consultant, and the accusations of unethical behavior are now being investigated further by several media outlets, including the New York Times and theWashington Post.
The Women in the World conference runs through Friday and features a long list of female activists and celebrities, including actresses Meryl Streep, Ashley Judd, Robin Wright and Friedo Pinto; journalists Katie Couric, Poppy Harlow, Nora O'Donnell, and Mika Brzezinski; writers Tavi Gevinson, Jon Krakauer, and Janet Mock; and political leaders Kirsten Gillibrand and Kamala Harris.
From the editors of ELLE.com