If one thing is clear, it's that Hillary Clinton isn't sweating the small stuff. Amid a continuing din of conservative criticism, and their ongoing insistence that she's embroiled in a major scandal, she's still moving forward. With a usual slate of engagements, appearances, and ostensibly, preparations for launching a presidential campaign on her plate, after all, she's got plenty of things to focus on, like Monday morning — Hillary made an appearance for the Clinton Foundation, sharing the stage with her daughter Chelsea, as well as high-profile philanthropist Melinda Gates.
The Clinton Foundation represents a major chapter in the history of America's former (and possibly future) first family, launched by Bill in 2005, just four years after his tenure as president came to an end. It's grown to a dramatic extent since then, and the whole family has become enmeshed with the organization, so it's hardly a surprise that Hillary would want to be in attendance.
Given that she's still dragging her heels on announcing her 2016 plans, it's a good opportunity to speak on issues that are less political than social. And in this case, it's on a very relevant topic — gender equality, and the barriers to achieving it.
The event was called "Not There Yet: A Data Driven Analysis of Gender Equality," and Hillary's presence didn't dominate the presentation the way you'd expect of most prospective presidential contenders: she spoke along with interwoven presentations from an array of speakers. But she still got the chance to dispense some thoughts...
This is about building a bigger and brighter future for everyone.
It's a longstanding strategy when advocating for the rights of a historically underserved or oppressed community — drawing through-lines, showing how what's good for one can be good for all. This is the note Hillary struck right off the bat, speaking after both Gates, and her daughter.
When women and girls have the opportunity to participate, we can lift up not just ourselves, but our families, communities, even our countries. So this isn't just a story about women and girls. It is a universal story about the kind of world we want for our children and grandchildren.
The occasion of this event coincided with the release of the Clinton Foundation's No Ceilings report, a data-rich trove of information about the worldwide state of gender equality. And even as there's a gruelingly long way to go, she took a moment to reflect on the positives found by the report, and the ways some things have improved over the last several years.
The good news, based on 20 years of data from more than 190 countries, collected by the Clinton Foundation and the Gates Foundation through the No Ceilings project, is that there has never been a better time in history to be born female.
The line drew a smattering of applause, despite not really feeling like that sort of event. And when you think about it, the truth of this comment seems obvious, even before you dig into the data — with women's rights causes being championed the world over, and within specific industries, it's clear that those voices calling for equality aren't going away.
It comes as absolutely no surprise that Hillary would have strong views on including women in the diplomatic process — she served as the United States' Secretary of State throughout President Obama's first term in office, the third woman to hold that position in American history (the other two being Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice). She voiced optimism about a "growing international momentum" for this cause, sitting across from fellow speaker and international leader Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, the President of Croatia.
Governments, including our own under Ambassador [for Global Women’s Issues Melanne] Verveer's leadership, have formulated national plans on how to actually implement the requirements of integrating women into peace and security issues. This was a very important priority to me when I was Secretary of State. So there's a growing international momentum to advance women's inclusion in peace negotiations, and conflict prevention, to protect women from sexual and gender-based violence, and to receive access to relief and recovery assistance in areas of conflict and insecurity.
You know what would really help move this momentum along? If the world's most powerful country ended up with a woman in charge. Ah, maybe getting ahead of myself a bit? Here's hoping Hillary can bring about the change she so clearly wants to see in the world — whatever your opinion of her politics, the time is long past due.
Images: Getty Images; Clinton Foundation (3)