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Vital Hillary

As she makes waves with a presidential bid, Hillary Rodham Clinton's work with the Vital Voices Global Partnership remains close to her heart

WASHINGTON LIFE: You've remained passionate about the Vital Voices cause. What has kept it paramount?
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: It comes down to the simple fact that human rights are women's rights, and women's rights are human rights. While we've made a great deal of progress since we made that statement at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, there is still much work to be done. In the 21st century, some women are still denied the right to an education and health care, denied the right to live free from violence in their own homes or in their societies, to own property, to participate fully as citizens, to vote, to run for office, to have access for credit so they can start or build a business - in other words, to live as fully human and to live up to their God-given potential. But if women are to become full and equal participants in their countries, they need the opportunities to share information and develop strategies together. They need help changing laws and the attitudes that teach girls that their dreams don't matter, that their rights don't exist, and that violence against them is an acceptable part of life. Vital Voices recognizes that when women are given opportunities - when they can raise their voices and access the skills, resources and tools to empower themselves, their communities and their countries - they can serve the causes of peace, democracy, progress and prosperity.

WL: Vital Voices is a remarkably rich and diverse group of women. What role do you have as an American within the microcosm?
HRC: Vital Voices gives women the opportunity to come together and share their dreams, aspirations, hopes and concerns. Through these meetings, women give support and strength, provide ideas and create the political will needed to solve problems found in every corner of the globe. As an American, I am proud to both share the stories of our successes here at home with women from around the world, as well as learn what has been working in other parts of the globe. These discussions are an important way to promote democracy, freedom, prosperity and human rights for all.

WL: What advice would you give to younger women wanting to get involved in human rights protection?
HRC: Working to advance human rights is something that women and men of all ages can do. And I would encourage them, as early as possible, to get involved with the organizations that are working to improve their communities and their world. When I was a young girl, I was active in associations in my school, in Girl Scouts and my church, and my participation in these types of organizations only continued as I went through college and law school. And I believe that when women of all ages participate in their communities through groups like these, they help to build a civil society that values the contributions of both women and men. I would hope that these young women never underestimate the power they have as individuals to affect positive change both in this country and around the world.


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Hillary Rodham Clinton at the Vital Voices benefi t dinner at the Kuwaiti Ambassador's residence

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