Clinton calls for a review on women’s equality

Hillary Rodham Clinton announced here Wednesday that she will lead a “full and clear-eyed” review of the advances made for worldwide women’s equality and the obstacles that remain, as the 20th anniversary of the historic Beijing women’s conference draws near.

Clinton, who helped lead a U.S. delegation to the U.N. Conference on Women in 1995 with then-U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright, said she will spearhead a “Beijing Plus 20” review of women’s issues at her family’s charitable foundation in the run-up to the event’s 2015 anniversary.

“I believe it’s time for a full and clear-eyed look at how far we have come, how far we still have to go and what we plan to do together about the unfinished business of the 21st century: the full and equal participation of women,” Clinton, a former secretary of state and U.S. senator, said at the annual Clinton Global Initiative gathering.

Since leaving the State Department this year, Clinton has given several speeches about women’s empowerment and is making the issue a core part of her public persona as she contemplates running for president again in 2016. She is a heavy favorite for the Democratic nomination and, if elected, would become the country’s first female president.

At the Beijing conference in 1995, when she was first lady, Clinton made headlines when she declared, “Let it be that human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights, once and for all.”

She went on to champion women’s empowerment as secretary of state during President Obama’s first term, appointing a longtime confidante and aide, Melanne Verveer, to be U.S. ambassador at large for global women’s issues.

Clinton has prioritized issues affecting women and girls around the world among her philanthropic endeavors at the newly renamed Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. Her focus areas also include early childhood development through a program she launched called Too Small to Fail.

“Whether we are talking about empowering and connecting women in economics or health care or education or politics, it all comes back to a question of the full and equal participation of women versus their marginalization,” she said.

Clinton has signaled that her focus would be on political as well as economic and societal advancements, and said she would reveal more about her initiatives in the weeks to come. In her remarks through the first two days of the Clinton Global Initiative event, Clinton has talked about the importance of electing more women to political offices around the world — including to the presidency of the United States.

During her remarks Wednesday, Clinton announced three new philanthropic commitments, including a $1.5 billion effort financed by several corporations and foundations over the next five years to invest in female entrepreneurs around the globe.

“This is such a perfect example of CGI networking,” Clinton said. She added, “Leveraging social capital and real capital — it’s a great combination.”

Philip Rucker is a national political correspondent for The Washington Post, where he has reported since 2005.

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