Hillary Clinton To Lead Review Of Women’s Rights At Clinton Foundation

The former secretary of state lays out her central project at the Clinton Foundation: “Beijing Plus 20.” A “full and clear-eyed look at how far we have come” since Clinton’s historic 1995 speech at the U.N. Conference on Women.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announces her “Beijing Plus 20” project during a Clinton Global Initiative meeting Wednesday in New York. Lucas Jackson / Reuters

Hillary Clinton announced Wednesday morning that her focus at the Clinton Foundation will be a “full and clear-eyed” review of global women’s rights leading up to September 2015, which will mark the 20th anniversary of her landmark speech at the United Nations Conference on Women in Beijing.

In remarks delivered in New York City at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting, Clinton said her initiative — dubbed “Beijing Plus 20” — will examine “how far we have come, how far we still have to go, and what we plan to do together about the unfinished business of the 21st century: the full and equal participation of women.”

In 1995, at the U.N.’s fourth World Conference on Women, the then-first lady famously declared that “human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights, once and for all.” As secretary of state, Clinton made women’s and girl’s rights a priority, establishing the position of ambassador-at-large for Global Women’s issues during her first year at Foggy Bottom.

As she transitions from the State Department to a heightened role at her husband’s foundation — recently renamed the “Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation” — Clinton elaborated Wednesday on what her portfolio at the organization will look like in the coming years, as she weighs a possible second bid for the White House.

“I will be leading an effort here at the Clinton Foundation, including through CGI,” she said, “to bring together partner organizations, international institutions, governments, businesses, NGOs, and others, to evaluate the progress we’ve made in time for the 20th anniversary in September 2015, and to work to chart the path forward to achieve that full and equal participation.”

Clinton called the 1995 Beijing conference “a call to action for the global community,” but added that the United States and the global community are “still a long way from the goal of full and equal participation.” The Beijing Plus 20 initiative will work toward turning “rhetoric into reality,” Clinton said.

Clinton said that of the 158 new commitments, or funded projects, that CGI is launching in 2013, 97 have “substantive girls’ and women’s components.”

“The percentage of CGI commitments that focus on girls and women continues to grow,” she said.

At a panel discussion Tuesday at CGI, Clinton laid out what she called the need to “continue to build the case” for women’s rights. The Beijing speech accounted for an “aspirational, moralistic” argument for gender equality, she said, but added, “That’s never enough — you have to build a case.”

Clinton said Wednesday she would elaborate more on the Beijing Plus 20 project “in the weeks ahead.”

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