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Welcome to our series that brings you original content from individuals in the news. We’re calling it “Verbatim” because these posts will let the authors speak for themselves.

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Today as the Democratic National Convention begins we are featuring presumptive candidate Hillary Clinton. (We would have quoted Donald Trump last week, but couldn’t locate any of his writing in our digital library.) Back in 1995, when she was the First Lady, she delivered a speech at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing called “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights.” It began thus:

 Those of us who have the opportunity to be here have the responsibility to speak for those who could not.

As an American, I want to speak up for women in my own country—women who are raising children on the minimum wage, women who can’t afford health care or child care, women whose lives are threatened by violence, including violence in their own homes.

I want to speak up for mothers who are fighting for good schools, safe neighborhoods, clean air, and clean airwaves; for older women, some of them widows, who have raised their families and now find that their skills and life experiences are not valued in the workplace; for women who are working all night as nurses, hotel clerks, and fast food cooks so that they can be at home during the day with their kids; and for women everywhere who simply don’t have time to do everything they are called upon to do each day.

Speaking to you today, I speak for them, just as each of us speaks for women around the world who are denied the chance to go to school, or see a doctor, or own property, or have a say about the direction of their lives, simply because they are women. The truth is that most women around the world work both inside and outside the home, usually by necessity.

We need to understand that there is no formula for how women should lead their lives.

You can read the full speech and download the PDF here.


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Women's Studies Quarterly, The Feminist Press at the City University of New York
Vol. 24, No. 1/2, Beijing and Beyond: Toward the Twenty-First Century of Women (Spring - Summer, 1996), pp. 98-101