While many are using International Women’s Day as jumping-off point to talk about gender inequality and the multitude of setbacks that women face, Hillary Clinton has a more uplifting message for young girls.
Speaking at a Girls Inc. luncheon in New York City Tuesday, where she accepted the nonprofit’s 2017 Champion for Girls Award, the two-time presidential candidate reminded the audience that, “Women are both smart enough and good enough to be considered for anything they choose to pursue.”
Clinton acknowledged that gender parity can sometimes seem like an endless battle, but insisted that the fight is not fruitless:
“Sometimes the road to progress can feel like it’s two steps forward, one step back, particular when it comes to advancing the rights, opportunities and full participation of women and girls. It can seem discouraging, whether you’ve been on that road for a long time or are just starting out. But think how different the world would be if the people who came before us had not just gotten discouraged, but because of that, had given up.”
The former secretary of state then went on to talk about her own experience bumping up against the glass ceiling—most notably the loss of the 2016 presidential election to Donald Trump. “The truth is, life hands all of us setbacks,” she said. “I’ve had my ups and my downs. In the last months, I’ve done my share of sleeping, a little soul searching and reflecting, long walks in the woods.”
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What Clinton learned from all that transpired, she says, is the power of a support network: “I am thankful for my own village, my community of family and friends who have supported and encouraged me.”
While the former first lady spoke at length about accepting failure, she nevertheless seemed determined to move past November 2016. Wearing red, the color chosen by the organizers of the Day Without A Woman protest taking place on Wednesday, she told the audience: “We have to keep fighting. We have to remain stubborn. We have to look for ways to mentor and support. And we have to understand that despite setbacks and stumbles on our long march to full equality, everywhere I look, there are signs of hope.”
It’s possible that Clinton herself will “remain stubborn.” Since losing the election, she has announced a new book, scaled back operations of her family’s controversial nonprofit, the Clinton Global Initiative, and allowed rumors that she will make a bid for mayor of New York City to percolate—signs some have taken that she may run for political office again.