International Bulletin - May 2001
Hillary Rodham Clinton at Beijing Plus Five
You know, we have marked the year of the woman. We even marked the decade of the woman. Now let us not just mark but celebrate a new century in which women's rights are once and for all treated as human rights, fully respected and protected in every corner of the world.
In this new century, let women's voices be heard at the ballot box and on the soapbox, in government and business, in communities and families.
In this new century, let rape no longer be a weapon of war, and let no woman or girl ever again be sold into slavery or subjected to violence simply because of her sex.
In this new century, let women finally receive equal pay for equal work. And let us provide the childcare, health care and family leave policies that parents need to succeed both at home and at work.
Let's give every woman a chance to shape her own economic destiny, and the means to left herself and her children out of poverty.
Let's ensure that access to education and health care, credit and jobs is no longer dependent upon the color of our skin, the community we live in, or whether we are born a boy or a girl.
And in this new century, if we can achieve our goal of ensuring that women's rights are accepted and protected - then I believe all children, boys and girls, will finally have the chance to reach their God-given potential.
Our work may be far from done but we cannot afford the luxury of being discouraged by these remaining challenges. We are heirs of struggles across the globe and back through history of women and men who have fought for, lived for, and even died for the rights we enjoy today.
It's a struggle that actually in the modern era began 152 years ago, not far from here in a place called Seneca Falls, New York, where the very first women's rights convention was held. Imagine the courage it must have taken for those women to attend that convention. Think of a young woman named Charlotte Woodward, a 19 year-old glovemaker who worked long hours every day with no hope of keeping her wages or owning property. She decided to go to that convention. She set out early in the morning and feared that no one else would come. At first the road was empty, she reported. But at each of the crossroads, she saw more women appear in carriages and wagons and on foot. Gradually they formed one long procession on the road to equality.
We are still on that road. Only now, at every crossroads, our caravan is joined by women from every continent, of every religion, every race, every ethnicity, every age, every community. And we know we may not see the end of this journey in our own lifetimes. Those who traveled to Seneca Falls understood that their convention was only a first step. They knew they wouldn't live to see the dreams they held, but they hoped their daughters and granddaughters would. In fact, Charlotte Woodward, the 19 year-old glovemaker, lived long enough to see American women finally earn the right to vote.
What a gift that Charlotte, her sisters and a few brave men gave us back those many years in Seneca Falls. What a gift that all of the women who gathered all those years at UN conferences have given us - in Mexico City, Copenhagen, Nairobi and in Beijing.
You have given us the road map to follow that road to equality. It is up to us to have the courage, the determination, the commitment to the mission of walking as far as we are able down that road and then passing off the road map to the generation behind us.
It is up to us and we can redeem the promises of Beijing - for our daughters and granddaughters if we are committed to making this journey together. I believe we will and I'm grateful for what every one of us is doing.
Thank you all very much.
Last Modified: June 05, 2010