Hillary Rodham Clinton Speech
This passage is adapted from Hillary Rodham Clinton’s speech titled “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights,” addressed to the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995. If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, it is that human rights are women’s rights…. And women’s rights are human rights. Let us not forget that among those rights are the(5) right to speak freely and the right to be heard. Women must enjoy the right 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 nongov-(10) ernmental 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(15) 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 jail- ing them, mistreating them, or denying them their freedom or dignity because of the peaceful expres-(20) sion of their ideas and opinions. In my country, we recently celebrated the seventy-fifth anniversary of women’s suffrage. It took one hundred and fifty years after the signing of our Declaration of Independence for women to(25) win the right to vote. It took seventy-two years of organized struggle on the part of many courageous women and men. It was one of America’s most divisive philosophi- cal wars. But it was also a bloodless war. Suffrage was(30) achieved without a shot fired. We have also been reminded, in V-J Day obser- vances last weekend, of the good that comes when men and women join together to combat the forces of tyranny and build a better world.(35) 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 prob- lems that continue to diminish the potential of half the world’s population.(40) Now it is 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(45) rely on women for labor in the home; and increas- ingly, 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 around the world—as long as(50) girls and women are valued less, fed less, fed last, overworked, underpaid, not schooled and subjected to violence in and out of their homes—the potential of the human family to create a peaceful, prosperous world will not be realized.(55) Let this conference be our—and the world’s—call to action. And let us heed the call so that we can create a world in which every woman is treated with respect and dignity, every boy and girl is loved and cared for(60) equally, and every family has the hope of a strong and stable future.
The fifth paragraph can be described as