Dec 5, 2022 - News

Clintons create platform for discussions on equality

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaking at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art last week, and Chelsea Clinton speaking at the Heartland Summit in Bentonville in May. Photo: Worth Sparkman/Axios

People from around the globe convened at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock Friday to talk about women's rights being indistinguishable from human rights.

  • The event was hosted by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and vice chair of the Clinton Foundation Chelsea Clinton.

Why it matters: Roughly 50% of the world's population is female, but their life experiences, earnings and bodily autonomy are vastly different from that of men.

  • Women's rights are under attack globally. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling this year intruding on — as many believe — personal reproductive rights; and in Iran, a woman recently died in the custody of police for allegedly violating a religious law.

Both Clintons said understanding the past is important to shaping the future.

The big picture: A recent United Nations report estimates it would take nearly 300 years to achieve global gender equality at the current rate of progress.

Details: More than 200 people joined the "Women's Voices Summit" in person, while 2,500 tuned in online. About 30 academics, political and business leaders, and activists — all women — shared their experiences fighting for equality.

What they said: "This very concerted attack on women's autonomy and agency, opportunities and rights … is tied up with the attack on democracy," Hillary Clinton said of the Dobbs decision that triggered an Arkansas law making performing an abortion illegal.

  • "When I look at the midterm elections, I see it as a small step toward … standing up and pushing back on those who want to undermine our voting system, undermine our trust in each other," she said.
  • The midterm results were a "relief" but "not enough," she added.

Yes, and: Chelsea Clinton said that women today are 50% more likely to die during childbirth than when she was born, and that number is higher for Black and Indigenous women.

  • "So not only have we slightly gone in the wrong direction, we have radically and rapidly and horrifically gone in the wrong direction," she said.

Hillary Clinton interviewed former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the day's closing session.

  • Gillard was subjected to intensely misogynistic comments by the country's opposition leader and famously spoke about her experience at a public debate in 2012.
  • Johnson Sirleaf was the first woman democratically elected as head of state in Africa and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011.

The bottom line: Gillard said listeners should invest in evidence-based research to determine what has the biggest impact on gender equality.

  • Johnson Sirleaf urged the audience to get involved and for international leaders to take policy actions that will ensure the promotion of women and the protection of girls.

Go deeper: An art and artifact exhibition "Women’s Voices, Women’s Votes, Women’s Rights," is on display at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock through April 30, 2023.

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