“We all like to think we’re right about what we believe about ourselves and what we often believe are only the best, most moral things. We like to pretend that our generous impulses come naturally. But the reality is we often become our kindest, most ethical selves only by seeing what it feels like to be selfish assholes first.” ~ Cheryl Strayed, Brave Enough
Thank you very much, Gertrude Mongella, for your dedicated work that has brought us to this point, distinguished delegates, and guests:
I would like to thank the Secretary General for inviting me to be part of this important United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women. This is truly a celebration, a celebration of the contributions women make in every aspect of life: in the home, on the job, in the community, as mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, learners, workers, citizens, and leaders.
It is also a coming together, much the way women come together every day in every country. We come together in fields and factories, in village markets and supermarkets, in living rooms and board rooms. Whether it is while playing with our children in the park, or washing clothes in a river, or taking a break at the office water cooler, we come together and talk about our aspirations and concern. And time and again, our talk turns to our children and our families. However different we may appear, there is far more that unites us than divides us. We share a common future, and we are here to find common ground so that we may help bring new dignity and respect to women and girls all over the world, and in so doing bring new strength and stability to families as well.
By gathering in Beijing, we are focusing world attention on issues that matter most in our lives — the lives of women and their families: access to education, health care, jobs and credit, the chance to enjoy basic legal and human rights and to participate fully in the political life of our countries.
There are some who question the reason for this conference. Let them listen to the voices of women in their homes, neighborhoods, and workplaces. 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. It is conferences like this that compel governments and peoples everywhere to listen, look, and face the world’s most pressing problems. Wasn’t it after all — after the women’s conference in Nairobi ten years ago that the world focused for the first time on the crisis of domestic violence?
Earlier today, I participated in a World Health Organization forum. In that forum, we talked about ways that government officials, NGOs, and individual citizens are working to address the health problems of women and girls. Tomorrow, I will attend a gathering of the United Nations Development Fund for Women. There, the discussion will focus on local — and highly successful — programs that give hard-working women access to credit so they can improve their own lives and the lives of their families.
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. That is why every woman, every man, every child, every family, and every nation on this planet does have a stake in the discussion that takes place here.
Over the past 25 years, I have worked persistently on issues relating to women, children, and families. Over the past two and a half years, I’ve had the opportunity to learn more about the challenges facing women in my own country and around the world.
I have met new mothers in Indonesia, who come together regularly in their village to discuss nutrition, family planning, and baby care. I have met working parents in Denmark who talk about the comfort they feel in knowing that their children can be cared for in safe, and nurturing after-school centers. I have met women in South Africa who helped lead the struggle to end apartheid and are now helping to build a new democracy. I have met with the leading women of my own hemisphere who are working every day to promote literacy and better health care for children in their countries. I have met women in India and Bangladesh who are taking out small loans to buy milk cows, or rickshaws, or thread in order to create a livelihood for themselves and their families. I have met the doctors and nurses in Belarus and Ukraine who are trying to keep children alive in the aftermath ofChernobyl.
The great challenge of this conference is to give voice to women everywhere whose experiences go unnoticed, whose words go unheard. Women comprise more than half the world’s population, 70% of the world’s poor, and two-thirds of those who are not taught to read and write. We are the primary caretakers for most of the world’s children and elderly. Yet much of the work we do is not valued — not by economists, not by historians, not by popular culture, not by government leaders.
At this very moment, as we sit here, women around the world are giving birth, raising children, cooking meals, washing clothes, cleaning houses, planting crops, working on assembly lines, running companies, and running countries. Women also are dying from diseases that should have been prevented or treated. They are watching their children succumb to malnutrition caused by poverty and economic deprivation. They are being denied the right to go to school by their own fathers and brothers. They are being forced into prostitution, and they are being barred from the bank lending offices and banned from the ballot box.
Those of us who have the opportunity to be here have the responsibility to speak for those who could not. As an American, I want to speak for those women in my own country, women who are raising children on the minimum wage, women who can’t afford health care or child care, women whose lives are threatened by violence, including violence in their own homes.
I want to speak up for mothers who are fighting for good schools, safe neighborhoods, clean air, and clean airwaves; for older women, some of them widows, who find that, after raising their families, their skills and life experiences are not valued in the marketplace; for women who are working all night as nurses, hotel clerks, or fast food chefs so that they can be at home during the day with their children; and for women everywhere who simply don’t have time to do everything they are called upon to do each and every day.
Speaking to you today, I speak for them, just as each of us speaks for women around the world who are denied the chance to go to school, or see a doctor, or own property, or have a say about the direction of their lives, simply because they are women. The truth is that most women around the world work both inside and outside the home, usually by necessity.
We need to understand there is no one formula for how women should lead our lives. That is why we must respect the choices that each woman makes for herself and her family. Every woman deserves the chance to realize her own God-given potential. But we must recognize that women will never gain full dignity until their human rights are respected and protected.
Our goals for this conference, to strengthen families and societies by empowering women to take greater control over their own destinies, cannot be fully achieved unless all governments — here and around the world — accept their responsibility to protect and promote internationally recognized human rights. The — The international community has long acknowledged and recently reaffirmed at Vienna that both women and men are entitled to a range of protections and personal freedoms, from the right of personal security to the right to determine freely the number and spacing of the children they bear. No one — No one should be forced to remain silent for fear of religious or political persecution, arrest, abuse, or torture.
Tragically, women are most often the ones whose human rights are violated. Even now, in the late 20th century, the rape of women continues to be used as an instrument of armed conflict. Women and children make up a large majority of the world’s refugees. 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.
These abuses have continued because, for too long, the history of women has been a history of silence. Even today, there are those who are trying to silence our words. But the voices of this conference and of the women at Huairou must be heard loudly and clearly:
It is a violation of human rights when babies are denied food, or drowned, or suffocated, or their spines broken, simply because they are born girls.
It is a violation of human rights when women and girls are sold into the slavery of prostitution for human greed — and the kinds of reasons that are used to justify this practice should no longer be tolerated.
It is a violation of human rights when women are doused with gasoline, set on fire, and burned to death because their marriage dowries are deemed too small.
It is a violation of human rights when individual women are raped in their own communities and when thousands of women are subjected to rape as a tactic or prize of war.
It is a violation of human rights when a leading cause of death worldwide among women ages 14 to 44 is the violence they are subjected to in their own homes by their own relatives.
It is a violation of human rights when young girls are brutalized by the painful and degrading practice of genital mutilation.
It is a violation of human rights when women are denied the right to plan their own families, and that includes being forced to have abortions or being sterilized against their will.
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.
Women must enjoy the rights to participate fully in the social and political lives of their countries, if we want freedom and democracy to thrive and endure. It is indefensible that many women in nongovernmental organizations who wished to participate in this conference have not been able to attend — or have been prohibited from fully taking part.
Let me be clear. Freedom means the right of people to assemble, organize, and debate openly. It means respecting the views of those who may disagree with the views of their governments. It means not taking citizens away from their loved ones and jailing them, mistreating them, or denying them their freedom or dignity because of the peaceful expression of their ideas and opinions.
In my country, we recently celebrated the 75th anniversary of Women’s Suffrage. It took 150 years after the signing of our Declaration of Independence for women to win the right to vote. It took 72 years of organized struggle, before that happened, on the part of many courageous women and men. It was one of America’s most divisive philosophical wars. But it was a bloodless war. Suffrage was achieved without a shot being fired.
But we have also been reminded, in V-J Day observances last weekend, of the good that comes when men and women join together to combat the forces of tyranny and to build a better world. We have seen peace prevail in most places for a half century. We have avoided another world war. But we have not solved older, deeply-rooted problems that continue to diminish the potential of half the world’s population.
Now it is the time to act on behalf of women everywhere. If we take bold steps to better the lives of women, we will be taking bold steps to better the lives of children and families too. 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.
As long as discrimination and inequities remain so commonplace everywhere in the world, as long as girls and women are valued less, fed less, fed last, overworked, underpaid, not schooled, subjected to violence in and outside their homes — the potential of the human family to create a peaceful, prosperous world will not be realized.
Let — Let this conference be our — and the world’s — call to action. Let us heed that call so we can create a world in which every woman is treated with respect and dignity, every boy and girl is loved and cared for equally, and every family has the hope of a strong and stable future. That is the work before you. That is the work before all of us who have a vision of the world we want to see — for our children and our grandchildren.
The time is now. We must move beyond rhetoric. We must move beyond recognition of problems to working together, to have the comment efforts to build that common ground we hope to see.
God’s blessing on you, your work, and all who will benefit from it.
Godspeed and thank you very much.
Much more than a double-standard, there is a Clinton standard that no other candidate, past or present, is being held to.
As journalists continue to press Hillary Clinton to release the transcripts from all the paid speeches she made as a private citizen, including those made to Wall Street powerhouse Goldman Sachs, it’s helpful to keep in mind how unusual the request is. Reading the coverage you might think the transcript demand is routine for all candidates. (i.e. Why won’t she just do it already?) But it’s not the norm. In fact, it’s the opposite of normal.
Once again separate rules have been created for Clinton, although the coverage and commentary on the transcript story is usually careful to leave that part out.
[ . . . ]
Still, journalists seem focused about uncovering the transcripts for a series of speeches Clinton gave to Goldman Sachs, the idea being that the Wall Street powerhouse would only pay Clinton big bucks because they expected something in return.
But Goldman Sachs regularly brings in a wide array of speakers, including clergy, athletes, researchers,journalists, and entrepreneurs. Is Clinton the only one who received Goldman Sachs speech paychecks and was then expected to deliver favors to the company?
The whole idea that paid corporate speeches are built around the expectation of favors returned doesn’t make much sense. “Paying a former secretary of state for giving a speech is what companies and associations do when they want to feel important, not when they want to influence legislation and regulations,” noted Paul Waldman at the Washington Post.
Meanwhile, The New York Times spoke to someone who attended one of those speeches [emphasis added]:
Mrs. Clinton mainly offered what one attendee called “a tour of the world,” covering her observations on China, Iran, Egypt and Russia. This person said Mrs. Clinton also discussed the dysfunction in Washington, how to repair America’s standing in the world after the government shutdown and also talked a bit about the Affordable Care Act, which had had a difficult rollout.
Politico reported one attendee remembered a Clinton Goldman Sachs speech as “mostly basic stuff, small talk, chit-chat.” (That person thought the optics of the speech might not look so good today.)
And note that in 2014, Clinton addressed the Ameriprise Financial conference. According to a Boston Globeaccount, Clinton urged political compromise and delivered a populist message about income equality:
“We have the feeling growing in our country that the deck is stacked against the middle class, and those fighting to get into the middle class,” Clinton said, adding that the country is hobbled by “rising inequality, growth that hasn’t really picked up yet, and the feeling that many Americans now have that somehow the system seems rigged against them.”
Clinton’s clearly being held to a new standard. The press thinks that’s fine and even celebrates it.
After guiding traffic at our caucus site yesterday, I turned to head into our room which was left side of the gym, sealed off from the right side by a divider. Just outside our caucus room door, a woman who appeared to be about my age, was leaning into the wall, her cell phone pressed into her ear. She was clearly disturbed by the conversation she was having. She was getting bad news, it was clear to me.
Due a large number of people who were in line by noon, and the huge number of new voter registrations, we didn’t get started until about an hour after the doors officially ‘closed’ at noon. Our caucus goers were getting restless. Understandable.
At some point, during the alignment process, the woman on the cell phone came up to me. She didn’t ask when we were going to be through. She told me, “My dad is dying.” She didn’t tell me she had to leave, though I would not have even dreamed of talking her out it. She stayed. She stayed until the alignment was complete.
And then she came up to me once again and simply said, “My dad is dying.” The question behind it: Do you need me to stay?
“Go,” I said.
“Thank you. I know he wanted me to be here.”
But the question we face is subtler, more complicated and harder to address than “Do I vote for her because she’s a woman?” Rather, it’s “Can I be sure I’m judging this candidate accurately, given the double bind that confronts all women in positions of authority?”
A double bind is far worse than a straightforward damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t dilemma. It requires you to obey two mutually exclusive commands: Anything you do to fulfill one violates the other. Women running for office, as with all women in authority, are subject to these two demands: Be a good leader! Be a good woman!
[ . . . }
The trickiest thing about the double bind is that it operates imperceptibly, like shots from a gun with a silencer. “It has nothing to do with gender,” I heard recently. “It’s just that she’s shrill.” When is the last time you heard a man called shrill? “She should stop shouting,” another critic advised. How is a candidate to be heard over the din of a cheering crowd without shouting? Both these comments came from women. Surprising? No. Women are just as likely, if not more likely, to react this way. After all, it’s from peers that girls learn to play down their power lest they be ostracized for being “bossy.”
This last statement got me. We swim in this. My own example: I don’t know how many times I’ve been instructing people, either in groups or one-on-one and I’ve jokingly apologized for being bossy. Yep, I use that word. Why? Because I don’t want them to dislike me for telling them what to do, even though I am the one who is directing things. I should just be able to direct traffic without disparaging myself. But I do it, because I’ve been TOLD I’m bossy. And to be a bossy woman is bad, bad, bad.
You know what? I’m just going to lose that. Not gonna do it any more.
Hillary wins Nevada! In my precinct we went 2/3 for Hillary, 1/3 for Bernie.
Caucuses are challenging, and I’m happy to report that both Clinton and Sanders supporters at our caucus site jumped in to help the Democratic Party volunteers to speed check-in and guide people to their caucus rooms. Yeah, that’s called being grown-up. I took this selfie with the Bernie Precinct Captain in 6109 who was standing next to me guiding caucus goers. I regret I didn’t catch his name.
I’m doing a happy dance tonight! Now off to the victory party!
Liss’ take on the February 12th Democratic Debate. Her take-aways echo mine. Especially #2 and #4
2. Sanders is not merely passionate about wealth inequality; it is virtually all he cares about. His opening statement, his closing statement, and any answer to any question that could possibly be answered thus were dedicated to wealth inequality. Even when he is asked to speak about racism or sexism, he talks about wealth inequality. He does not seem amenable to embracing an intersectional analysis at all. Racism? Solve it with jobs and education! Sexism? Solve it with jobs and education! The thing is, he was standing onstage next to arguably the most privileged woman in the world, who is also subjected to arguably the most relentless misogyny in the world. She doesn’t need a job or a free college education. She needs her whole humanity respected, and breaking up the banks won’t make that happen.
[ . . . ]
4. I found Sanders’ general demeanor extremely unappealing, particularly his snide snipes at Clinton. They only had this debate because he wanted more of them (probably assuming Clinton would say no and he could use that against her whooooooops), and I’m not sure that people seeing more of this act is going to work in his favor.
Hillary Clinton’s close was stellar.