Thursday, May 21, 2009

Hillary Urges Women at Barnard to Support Women

This is what a feminist looks like! In an awesome speech excerpted below, Hillary Rodham Clinton urges the graduating class of Barnard to get to work on the enormous problem of women's oppression -- in the U.S. and across the planet. There's much that women of privilege can do. Here's an excerpt from Hillary's commencement speech but you should really read the full speech:

I want to talk about a particular area where I think you can, you should, and you must make a difference. It's important to me personally and it's especially important in my new job, and that is the plight of women and girls around the world. As women with strong voices and strong values, you are in a unique position to support women worldwide who don't have the resources you do, but whose lives and dreams are just as worthy as yours and mine. I have concluded after traveling many miles and visiting many places in the last decades that talent is universally distributed, but opportunity is not. The futures of these women and girls will affect yours and mine. And therefore, it is not only the right thing to do, but also the smart thing. . .

Although not always acknowledged by governments, businesses, or society overall, women and girls bear a disproportionate burden of most of the problems we face today. In the midst of this global economic crisis, women who are already the majority of the world's poor are driven deeper into poverty. In places where food is scarce, women and girls are often the last to eat, and eat the least. In regions torn apart by war and conflict, women are more likely to be refugees or targets of sexual violence. . .

And women’s progress is more than a matter of morality. It is a political, economic, social and security imperative for the United States and for every nation represented in this graduating class. If you want to know how stable, healthy, and democratic a country is, look at its women, look at its girls."

And yet the marginalization of women and girls goes on. It is one of humankind's oldest problems. But what is different today is that we have 21st century tools to combat it. . . Today, women are finding their voices, and those voices are being heard far beyond their own narrow circumstances. And here's what each of you can do. You can visit the website of a nonprofit called Kiva, K-i-v-a, and send a microloan to an entrepreneur like Blanca, who wants to expand her small grocery store in Peru. You can send children's books to a library in Namibia by purchasing items off an wish list. You can sit in your dorm room, or soon your new apartment, and use the web to plant trees across Africa through Wangari Maathai's Green Belt movement.

See more photos at Secretary Clinton