Thursday, June 11, 2009

Feminist Herstory: Hillary Receives Prestigious Alice Award

Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton is the recipient of this year's prestigious Alice Award.

The Alice Award is named after Alice Paul, feminist extraordinaire, who led the final stage of the campaign for women's suffrage. Paul was founder of the National Woman’s Party and author of the ERA, among her many feminist accomplishments.

The award was presented to feminist trailblazer Hillary Rodham Clinton -- on behalf of the Board of Directors of the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum -- for putting 'eighteen million cracks' in the glass ceiling. The museum is the headquarters of the historic National Woman's Party and was once the home of Alice Paul.

Hillary paid tribute to Alice Paul in her acceptance speech. This is an excerpt:

Alice Paul was a visionary and a pioneer. She believed that gender equality was a moral imperative as well as a foundation for progress. And her struggle for women’s rights was built on the premise that no society or nation can reach its full potential if half of the population is left behind.

Now, we have seen that played out in our own country. As Audrey referenced, the struggle for women’s rights and for women’s suffrage did not come easily; it was a very long haul. It took enormous persistence. Some of the pioneers who first declared it in the Declaration of Sentiments at the first ever Women’s Convention in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848 did not live to see their dream realized. But it was finally enshrined in our Constitution, and in the years since many in this room and our predecessors who worked so hard to realize the full meaning of what women’s equality and suffrage meant have never faltered.

And we know that where women flourish, families flourish, communities flourish, and nations flourish. That’s why this important mission of extending women’s equality and full participation is not finished, and we each have a role to play.

What made Alice Paul so special was her fearlessness. I mean, she went where most men and women would not have gone. She took on every obstacle that came her way. She was a tireless human rights activist, an unyielding advocate for the equal rights for all women. Her Quaker upbringing instilled in her the value of simplicity, and to her, it was very simple: Gender equity was so self-evident that she often would express frustration that her motivating idea that women and men should be equal partners in society caused such a ruckus in so many places – not that I ever experienced that. (Laughter.)

But Alice Paul had learned this ideal in her family, and she made it the cause of her life. And unlike many suffragists who left public life after the 19th Amendment was passed and finally became part of our Constitution, she never stopped her pursuit of equality. She worked not only for the enactment of the Equal Rights Amendment in the United States, but for women’s rights around the world. She established the World Women’s Party, headquartered in Switzerland, which worked with the League of Nations to include gender equality in the United Nations Charter, and she helped to establish the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. read more . .

via Ms. / Photo: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton greets guests as she arrives to receive the 2009 Alice Award at Sewall-Belmont House and Museum in Washington June 8, 2009.REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES POLITICS)