Hillary Clinton talks at convention center of gender inequality

ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke yesterday during the Pennsylvania Conference for Women at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke yesterday during the Pennsylvania Conference for Women at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
Posted: November 04, 2013

IT'S ALL ABOUT the ceiling.

The glass ceiling, that is.

Speaking yesterday at the Pennsylvania Conference for Women, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said gender inequality must be erased in America.

"Too many women here and around the world still face ceilings, ceilings that hold back their ambitions and aspirations, that make it harder for them to pursue their own God-given potential," Clinton said in her keynote address.

"These ceilings just don't hold back women and girls but they hold back entire economies and societies because no country can truly thrive by denying the contributions of half its people," she said, calling remedying gender inequality "the great unfinished business of the 21st century."

Clinton, who campaigned for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, knows about ceilings all too well. But in her speech at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Clinton stayed mum about a possible 2016 White House run, or what it would take for the country to elect its first woman president.

Instead, she stressed that while great strides have been made in the area of women's rights, much work has to be done.

"After all, women and girls still comprise the majority of the world's unhealthy, unfed, unschooled and unpaid," she said.

Some statistics Clinton provided made it sound like America is stuck in 1968.

"Even in advanced economies like our own, women earn 16 percent less than men for doing the same job," she said. "Women still hold less than 17 percent of corporate board seats in the United States and only about 4 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women."

Yet, women are the primary breadwinners for 40 percent of American families with children and most are single mothers.

Earlier in the day, Madeleine Albright, the first woman to become the U.S. secretary of state, also talked about the struggle for women's rights.

"There's plenty of room in the world for mediocre men," she said. "There is no room in the world for mediocre women."

Albright said that because she was often the only woman in the room, particularly as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, she learned that she had to know what she was talking about - then interrupt.

Clinton said when women participate in peacemaking and peacekeeping, "We are all safer and more secure."

"Weren't you proud when it was the women of the United States Senate who led the way to end the shutdown?" Clinton asked as the crowed cheered.

Many American women today are living shorter lives than their mothers, especially those with less education and lower incomes, which Clinton described as a historical reversal in life expectancy.

It's a fact that you wouldn't expect from the richest, most powerful country in the world, Clinton pointed out.

"We have to work together to try to reverse these trends. . . . So let's get cracking women of Pennsylvania," she said.


On Twitter: @barbaralaker

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