Hillary Clinton (2/10)

Hillary Clinton has been involved in helping women and children gain more rights since she was the First Lady. She helped create the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Clinton health care program. Clinton has sought to always improve women’s situations, but she has often been forced to do it within the gender roles that are expected of women. Women are expected to take care of families and the home. Clinton has had to try and help women within these roles because that is what society expects of women. Therefore, it is what society expects of a woman in politics. Women in politics are supposed to help improve conditions for women and children.

In a speech given by Hillary Clinton on September 5, 1995 in Beijing, China at the United Nations 4th World Conference on Women Plenary Session, she discussed the importance of women’s rights. Clinton had worked for years to try and improve conditions for women and children around the world, but this speech signified an important change in the discussion. Previously, women’s rights were considered separately from human rights. Clinton stated, “And when women are excluded from the political process, they become even more vulnerable to abuse. I believe that now, on the eve of a new millennium, it is time to break the silence. It is time for us to say here in Beijing, and for the world to hear, that it is no longer acceptable to discuss women’s rights as separate from human rights.” Whenever there was a violation of human rights, countries would be outraged and try to get involved to fix the situation; however, violations of women’s rights happen daily around the world, but it goes unnoticed. One of Clinton’s most profound statements was “If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all. Let us not forget that among those rights are the right to speak freely — and the right to be heard.”

Although Clinton makes the claim the women need to be respected as humans, she made the argument that women should be valued because of their impacts on families and communities. Clinton states, “What we are learning around the world is that if women are healthy and educated, their families will flourish. If women are free from violence, their families will flourish. If women have a chance to work and earn as full and equal partners in society, their families will flourish. And when families flourish, communities and nations do as well.” To persuade the world of the importance of women, Clinton had to show to the world the benefits of treating women like humans. She states, “There are some who wonder whether the lives of women and girls matter to economic and political progress around the globe. Let them look at the women gathered here and at Huairou — the homemakers and nurses, the teachers and lawyers, the policymakers and women who run their own businesses.”

Clinton states, “Families rely on mothers and wives for emotional support and care. Families rely on women for labor in the home. And increasingly, everywhere, families rely on women for income needed to raise healthy children and care for other relatives.” Clinton is emphasizing women’s roles in the family. Clinton’s appeal to the world to care about women does not go outside of the gender roles that the world expects of women because she knows some societies would not agree is she put too much focus on women in politics or in careers.



5 thoughts on “Hillary Clinton (2/10)

  1. It is interesting that even a politician that is an icon for women’s rights has historically had to argue for women’s rights within the context of traditional roles of motherhood and family-care. Clinton herself symbolizes the “traditional” mode of women in politics when she primarily focuses on “helping families.”


  2. This speech points out a glaring problem in the world’s perception of human rights as a separate issue from women’s rights. Did her speech produce any greater changes in the UN’s (or other political organizations of the world) reaction to violations of women’s rights?


  3. As a woman, I love seeing politicians (whether male or female) discuss women’s rights as human rights. Yet at the same time, it’s disheartening to think that this specification must be made. To have to argue that women are humans, even today, shows how far society still has to go in terms of gender equality.


  4. Hillary Clinton has made such a large impact on the political world and society in general. As big of an impact that she has had, it is sad that she had to argue for women’s rights within the constraints of what society thought as the proper roles so she could get support.


  5. Hillary Clinton was groundbreaking in declaring that human rights are women’s rights and vice versa but it is sad that her speech focused on women in their roles in the family. If women who are leaders in politics and other areas can only argue for women’s rights in traditional gender roles where does that lead society? How can societies support women’s rights when women are talked about in non-traditional roles?


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