6 Women Hillary Clinton Admires Because She's A Long-Time Feminist & They'll Inspire You Too
For the past 17 out of 18 years, Hillary Clinton has been recognized as America's most admired woman, and so it's natural to wonder which women Clinton herself looks up to. She has long identified as a feminist, and so it comes as no surprise that the six women Clinton has said she admires come from a wide range of backgrounds and have each made significant contributions to the feminist movement. The growing numbers of young women who have come to view Hillary Clinton as a role model might well find sources of inspiration in the very women who have inspired her.
In different interviews, speeches, and campaign statements over the past several years, Clinton has specifically discussed her admiration for female figures who include Franklin Roosevelt’s first lady, the late Eleanor Roosevelt; the birth control advocate Margaret Sanger; Harvard professor and Massachusetts-based Sen. Elizabeth Warren; former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard; German Chancellor Angela Merkel; and women’s education rights activist Malala Yousafzai. Dead or alive, these six women have all played roles in Clinton's career and presidential campaigns.
1) Eleanor Roosevelt
Clinton has "long admired Eleanor Roosevelt as a role model," her campaign stated after Clinton announced her intent to visit Roosevelt Island in New York on June 13 for her first rally. Clinton made a speech honoring both President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his first lady. Clinton also firmly discussed women's rights issues, more or less as a nod to Eleanor Roosevelt and her activism for this cause.
Eleanor famously chaired the Universal Declaration of Human Rights drafting committee in the post-WWII world, and in the United States, she consistently challenged segregation. Roosevelt also addressed the lack of female representation in both national and international politics and later chaired President Kennedy's Commission on the Status of Women.
2) Margaret Sanger
In 2009, Hillary Clinton made the following comment praising Margaret Sanger at an awards gala hosted by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
I admire Margaret Sanger enormously, her courage, her tenacity, her vision. ... And when I think about what she did all those years ago in Brooklyn, taking on archetypes, taking on attitudes and accusations flowing from all directions, I am really in awe of her.
Republicans attacked Clinton for her support of a woman who, according to the ideologically driven pro-life movement, was responsible for the "elimination" of disabled people, and was a racist for her contributions to the eugenics movement. Sanger may have held the racial attitudes of her time, but her work in developing the birth control pill and advocating for women's rights to contraceptive methods was meant to spare immigrant women from fatal deliveries, relieve socioeconomic burdens on impoverished families, and empower women with unprecedented control over their bodies.
In the video below, Clinton effectively shuts down the Republicans who confront her by making it clear that she in no way supports Sanger's supposed racial beliefs. Clinton also stated her admiration for Sanger is based on the activist's dedication to empowering women.
3) Elizabeth Warren
Clinton praised Sen. Elizabeth Warren in Warren's feature in TIME Magazine's April list of the world's 100 most influential people:
Elizabeth Warren never lets us forget that the work of taming Wall Street's irresponsible risk taking and reforming our financial system is far from finished. And she never hesitates to hold powerful people's feet to the fire: bankers, lobbyists, senior government officials and, yes, even presidential aspirants
Clinton lauded the self-made senator from Massachusetts for her "journey from a janitor's daughter to a Harvard professor" and for her embodiment of the "American dream." Warren is famous for her powerful stance against Wall Street, intellectual contributions to bankruptcy law, and advocacy for Wall Street reform and consumer protection initiatives.
Warren and Clinton appeared friendly in October 2014 at a Massachusetts rally for gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley. However, Warren is famously lukewarm when it comes to Clinton and has been known to avoid discussing her.
4) Julia Gillard
In June 2014, Clinton expressed her admiration for Julia Gillard, Australia's prime minister, for the manner in which she handled what Clinton called "outrageous sexism" from her political opponents. In October 2012, Gillard responded to sexist comments by her leading opponent, Tony Abbott, by boldly stating: "If he wants to see what misogyny looks like in modern Australia ... he needs a mirror.” Abbott had famously made comments ranging from "abortion is the easy way out" to "[women are] physiologically unsuited to leadership." He has also "joked" that people should vote for him because of his "not bad looking" daughters.
Although Abbott went on to win the vote for prime minister, Gillard's famous misogyny speech attracted global attention and admiration from feminists everywhere. In Sept. 2014, Gillard publicly demonstrated her support for Clinton by boldly claiming that electing Clinton would have a "huge global impact" on democracy:
So to be able, in the world in which we live today with those security challenges, to see a great democracy elect a woman to lead it would be a real statement.
At Fortune magazine’s Most Powerful Women summit in London on Monday night, when asked of any advice Gillard had for Clinton, Gillard suggested:
... If anything happens that’s sexist you’ve got to call it out early rather than thinking it will all normalize itself, it will just go away by itself.
Gillard also provided advice relevant to women in the workplace regarding sexism.
5) Angela Merkel
In July 2014, Hillary Clinton famously dubbed Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel Europe's "greatest leader," and has also lauded Merkel for "[carrying] Europe on her shoulders." Clinton and Merkel have previously shared laughs over their similar appearances and senses of fashion.
Merkel became Germany's first chancellor in 2005 and is the leader of Germany's Christian Democratic Union (CDU). She has consistently been named Forbes' "Most Powerful Woman in the World," and in 2013, was identified by Forbes as the second most powerful person in the world. Merkel has never declared herself a feminist, but has subtly attacked traditional misogynistic gender roles by increasing the time and pay for parental leave and implementing a policy that makes it easier for fathers to also take paternity leave. Merkel has yet to make a public statement about Clinton's presidential bid.
6) Malala Yousafzai
In Dec. 2012, Hillary Clinton publicly honored Malala Yousafzai in Paris on the United Nation's International Human Rights Day by rallying crowds under "Stand up for Malala — Girl’s education is a right!" The event helped launch the Malala Fund for Girls’ Right to Education. In the video message below, Clinton said:
Today, we stand together with Malala and the millions of other girls and women who are risking their lives to get an education. ... On behalf of Malala and countless other girls who share her dream, let us continue to champion their right to an education–and let us expose those who would deny it.
Yousafzai is well-known for being victimized by the Taliban in Pakistan, her home nation, for her pursuit of education as a female student. Her bravery and advocacy for global women's rights to education earned her a Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. In September 2013, as an honored speaker at the Clinton Global Citizen Awards, Yousafzai stated:
Women are denied, they are neglected even in the developed countries, where they are not given the opportunities to move forward and be what they want. Even in America, even in America, people are waiting for a woman president.
Clinton was seated in the very room in which Yousafzai made this statement. Malala has yet to comment on Hillary Clinton and her 2016 presidential bid.
Those who voted Clinton as the most admired woman in America are probably inspired by her prominent and highly-decorated political career as a first lady, senator, and secretary of state despite the forces of our male-dominant American political system that inevitably work against her. Whatever they fought for, from human rights to birth control rights, these six women whom Clinton admires have shared in her struggle to empower themselves in patriarchal societies, and have ultimately succeeded. For that reason, the countless women and girls across the world who are inspired by Clinton should be inspired by these women as well.