Hillary Rodham Clinton: Women's Rights are Human Rights
Mrs. Mongella, Under Secretary Kittani, distinguished delegates and guests: I would like to thank the Secretary General of the United Nations for inviting me to be a part of the United Nations Fourth World Conference of Women. This is truly a celebration -- a celebration of the contributions women make in every aspect of life: in the home, on the job, in their communities, as mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, learners, workers, citizens and leaders. It is also a coming together, much of the way women come together ever day in every country. We come together in fields and in factories. We come together in village markets and supermarkets. We come together in living rooms and board rooms. Whether it is while playing with our children in the park, or washing clothes in a river, or taking a break at the office water cooler, we come together and talk about our aspirations and concern. And time and again, our talk turns to our children and our families. However different we may be, there is far more that unites us than divides us. We share a common future, and are here to find common ground so that we may help bring new dignity and respect to women and girls all over the world. By doing this, we bring new strength and stability to families as well. By gathering in Beijing, we are focusing world attention on issues that matter most in the lives of women and their families: access to education, health care, jobs and credit, the chance to enjoy basic legal and human rights and participate fully in the political life of their countries. There are some who question the reason for this conference.
Let them listen to the voices of women in their homes, neighborhoods, and workplaces. There are some who wonder whether the lives of women and girls matter to economic and political progress around the globe. Let them look at the women gathered here and at Huairou – the homemakers, nurses, teachers, lawyers, policymakers, and women who run their own businesses. It is conferences like this that compel governments and people everywhere to listen, look and face the world’s most pressing problems. Wasn’t it after the women’s conference in Nairobi ten years ago that the world focused for the first time on the crisis of domestic violence? Earlier today, I participated in a World Health Organization forum, where government officials, NGOs, and individual citizens are working on ways to address the health problems of women and girls. Tomorrow, I will attend a gathering of the United Nations Development Fund for Women. There, the discussion will focus on local -- and highly successful -- programs that give hard-working women access to credit so they can improve their own lives and the lives of their families. What we are learning around the world is that if women are healthy and educated, their families will flourish. If women are free from violence, their families will flourish. If women have a chance to work and earn as full and equal partners in society, their families will flourish. And when families flourish, communities and nations will flourish That is why every woman, every man, every child, every family, and every nation on our planet has a stake in the discussion that takes place here. Over the past 25 years, I have worked persistently on issues relating to women, children, and families. Over the past two-and-a half years, I have had the opportunity to learn more about the challenges facing women in my own country and around the world. I have met new mothers in Jojakarta and Indonesia, who come together regularly in their village to discuss nutrition, family planning, and baby care. I have met working parents in Denmark who talk about the comfort they feel in knowing that their children can be cared for in creative, safe, and nurturing after-school centers. I have met women in South Africa who helped lead the struggle to end apartheid and are now helping build a new democracy. I...
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