Hillary Clinton Has A Great Women's Rights Record

by Melanie Schmitz

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton still has a lot on her plate. The potential presidential candidate has been filling her calendar to the brim of late, scheduling visits to a women's conference in Silicon Valley on Tuesday, an award ceremony with Democratic women's group EMILY's List on March 3, and the highly anticipated United Nations assembly one week later on March 10, during which she is expected to deliver a 20th anniversary commemoration speech on the Beijing Platform for Action, a U.N. initiative that seeks to empower women worldwide. With such a female-centric agenda, some have indicated that Clinton might use the platforms as a rehearsal stage for her prospective presidential bid — and that might just be Clinton's best move yet. With a long history of championing women's rights, Clinton deserves a little bit of praise for her remarkable relationship with feminism.

While her colleagues and fellow presidential hopefuls shy away from serious talk about important women's issues (or rather, try to regulate everything they do without regard to women's input), Clinton is putting them front and center. It's not surprising then, that many are awarding and honoring her for it. But Clinton isn't simply using the topic as a crutch in her campaign bid — she's standing behind years of dedicated focus and tough stances.

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As early as 1975, Clinton was showing off her feminist prowess, keeping her maiden name (Rodham) after her marriage to husband Bill, despite realizing that others would disapprove (which they did, apparently) and taking on the boy's club in Washington, D.C. as one of only three women working on President Nixon's impeachment. Her powerful views on working women haven't changed much since then.

In a moving speech to the U.N. in 1995, Clinton highlighted the importance of recognizing women's importance and talent around the globe:

Women comprise more than half the world's population. Women are 70 percent of the world's poor, and two-thirds of those who are not taught to read and write.
Women are the primary caretakers for most of the world's children and elderly.Yet much of the work we do is not valued -not by economists, not by historians, not by popular culture, not by government leaders. ...We need to understand that there is no formula for how women should lead their lives.That is why we must respect the choices that each woman makes for herself of her family.
... Women must enjoy the right to participate fully in the social and political lives of their countries if we want freedom and democracy to thrive and endure.
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Since then, Clinton has also spent a large portion of her time encouraging both young girls and women alike to recognize their potential. After a failed presidential bid in 2008 — which some aides contributed to her unwillingness to single out the monumental nature of her campaign (as the first potential female president of the United States) — she took a job in the Obama cabinet and continued to push for global equality using her newfound platform, even going so far as to create an entirely new position, ambassador at large for global women's issues, for which she recruited former chief of staff Melanne Verveer in 2011. In an interview with The New York Times that same year, Clinton remarked:

I happen to believe that the transformation of women’s roles is the last great impediment to universal progress — that we have made progress on many other aspects of human nature that used to be discriminatory bars to people’s full participation. But in too many places and too many ways, the oppression of women stands as a stark reminder of how difficult it is to realize people’s full human potential.

More recently, in an April 2013 speech at the fourth annual Women in the World Summit, Clinton pointed out that women were more than just bystanders to human progress, but were "agents of change ... drivers of progress ... [and] makers of peace," indicating that the only thing required to set them free in the world was a "fighting chance".

It's unclear yet whether Clinton will ever officially announce a second presidential bid, but if or when she does, there will be plenty of people cheering her on:

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