Hillary Clinton, former U.S. secretary of state, center, greets attendees with her daughter Chelsea Clinton, right, during the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013. CGI's 2013 theme, mobilizing for impact, explores ways that members and organizations can be more effective in leveraging individuals, partner organizations, and key resources in their commitment efforts. Photographer: Jin Lee/Bloomberg *** Local Caption *** Hillary Clinton; Chelsea Clinton Hillary Clinton  greets attendees with daughter Chelsea Clinton  during the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York  on Tuesday. (Jin Lee/Bloomberg)

NEW YORK – One question hung over panel discussion here Tuesday featuring Hillary Rodham Clinton about “advancing progress” for women and girls. And while the moderator, CNN’s Sanjay Gupta, didn’t quite ask it, he came close:

“How important is it for there to be a woman president in the United States?” Gupta asked the former secretary of state as he concluded the Clinton Global Initiative session was wrapping up.

The room, filled with business and nonprofit leaders and friends of the Clintons, lit up with applause. Although if they thought Clinton might announce her 2016 candidacy right here and now, they surely were disappointed.

“That is a question that I will answer taking myself totally out of it,” Clinton said. But, she added, “The idea that our country has still some unfinished business of our own politically I think we have to accept.”

She spoke of the economic barriers for women in the United States and around the world.

“Electing one person, a woman, is not going to end those challenges, but it provides a kind of boost to the efforts that so many of us would be making for so long,” Clinton said. “I think it would be a very strong statement. … And, someday, I hope it happens.”

Queen Rania of Jordan, a co-panelist and longtime Clinton friend, may be hoping so, too. Although she stopped short of an outright endorsement, Rania showered praise on Clinton.

“The symbolism of what you’ve achieved in your life, both personally and professionally – I think you’ve unknowingly expanded the horizons for women and girls all over the world,” Rania said.