Today is International Women’s Day and I would like to take a pause to honor a human rights activist and political figure I truly admire:
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Hillary has a great number of detractors for many reasons, but undeniably she has done more than most to bring women, and children, to the forefront of policy around the world, both as First Lady and Secretary of State. She has publicly admonished governments and organizations which have abused women over long periods of time, even when she was told to toe the line. She ignored her husband’s administration, advisors, public figures and parts of the media. Clinton has always been very matter of fact when it comes to women: half the population should never be subjected to torture, bullying, physical and verbal assaults, because they are women. She brought China’s one-child policy to a new level of public scrutiny while standing in Beijing:
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.
Hillary has persevered while suffering immense public scrutiny most cannot imagine. But by doing so she has made the road a little easier for women to be equal in all ways to men.
It’s no secret Clinton is despised by many, but that’s fine. She doesn’t need to be loved. History will note the good and bad of Hillary Clinton, and at the end of it all, once people have stopped throwing shit just because they can, she will be seen as someone who stood up for millions of people – children, women, men, lesbian, gay, bi, trans, straight, black, latino, white – doing whatever she could, the best that she could.
Even now, as a failed Presidential Candidate – the first woman to have been nominated by a leading political party – Hillary continues to bring the movement for equality back into the discussion, raising up other women deserving of recognition even though Clinton has been told to sit down and shut up.
I’ve been a fan of hers for most of my life, seeing a speech she gave somewhere when I was around eight years old. I didn’t know who she was, but I was certainly captivated by her. I grew to admire her for her intelligence, her sharp bite, her determination, her confidence, and her belief that the only way to govern effectively is to actually work with the other side even when it means compromising on your own agenda. And while I differ with her on some foreign policy and didn’t love how long it took her to speak out for marriage equality, she was always steady in her belief that children deserved every chance they could get, women should be valued fairly in all industries and cultural norms, and that everyone is a human being and should be treated as one.
At the end, of all the things she’s done, Hillary Rodham Clinton will be known as the woman who ignored the warnings from diplomats and politicians, stood up in Beijing at a UN conference, and stated, with the world watching, the true words which had never really been publicly uttered before:
Women’s Rights are Human Rights
and Human Rights are Women’s Rights
Once and for all
She is a trailblazer of the modern era, an intellectual unafraid to stand up for what she believes in, willing to cross the line when needed, and an inspiration to This Feminist Guy.