Hillary Clinton lauds ‘ceiling-smashing’ global female leaders


Hillary Rodham Clinton and designer Ralph Lauren applaud a group of newly sworn-in citizens during a naturalization ceremony Tuesday at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington. Later in the day, she spoke at an awards ceremony at the Kennedy Center. (Susan Walsh/AP)

Seems former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton had a certain book title on her mind at a Tuesday night award ceremony for female leaders around the globe.

“The women we honor tonight have faced hard choices in their own lives,” Clinton told the crowd at the Kennedy Center’s concert hall, evoking the title of the memoir she has been touring the country promoting. “There were certainly easier paths.”

Clinton took the stage during the event hosted by Vital Voices, a nonprofit organization that grew from a government initiative she founded when she was first lady, to present an award in absentia to Razan Zaitouneh, an activist in Syria who was kidnapped.

“Let us speak as one and demand the safe and immediate release of Razan Zaitouneh and all the political prisoners in Syria and this conflict as it continues,” she said. “We will not forget her, we will not forget the work she did, we will not forget the abuses she exposed or the hope she cherished.”

The evening celebrated women like Priti Patkar, who founded an organization to care for the children of sex workers in India; Guatamala’s attorney general Claudia Paz y Paz, who is credited with cleaning up corruption and stepping up prosecution of organized crime; and Victoria Kisyombe, who founded an organization that helps women in Tanzania start small businesses.

“They have smashed through every ceiling in the world,” Clinton said, declaring equal rights and participation of women and girls as the “great unfinished business of the 21st century.”

But Clinton herself was an honoree of sorts, too —  the crowd went wild for her, and supporters like fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg, who sits on the organization’s board, and longtime friend Melanne Verveer, now the director of Georgetown’s Institute for Women, Peace and Security, talked up the possible 2016 presidential candidate.

 

In an interview before the event, Verveer, who co-founded the nonprofit, said Clinton has meant “everything” to women she’s worked with around the world. “It’s their validation,” she said.  “She’s an energizer — they can say, ‘we know her, we’re part of this great network she created’ It’s inspirational.”

Correction: An earlier version of this piece misspelled Melanne Verveer’s first name. The text has been corrected.

 

Von Furstenberg posted a selfie on Instagram.

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.
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Emily Heil · June 18