— article and photos by Bonnie Squires, The Public Record
When Hillary Clinton spoke last Tuesday at Bryn Mawr College, the site of The Women in Public Service Project’s second annual two-week summer session, I did not expect her to announce her decision to run again for president — it would be too early. But she did make a joke about getting into trouble whenever she advocates for more women to lead countries.
As expected, Tea Party proponents were quick to say that her appearance was a “smokescreen for her campaign for president.” I did not see any smokescreen here, but I wish she would announce the campaign sooner than planned.
More after the jump.
Clinton was there to keynote a project she had launched while she was Secretary of State, partnering at first with five leading women’s colleges, including Bryn Mawr. Her friend and ally, former Congresswoman Jane Harman, now head of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, gave an enthusiastic introduction to Clinton, rattling off her accomplishments: first lady of Arkansas, first lady of the United States, Senator and secretary of state.
Left to right: Betdy Williams, former State Sen. Constance Williams and former Congresswoman Jane Harman
Many of those present for her speech had walked a long mile with Clinton; and many clearly hoped to continue walking with her.
I kept thinking about the time during the Democratic presidential primary in 2008, when Clinton, then a candidate for the nomination, appeared at a campaign event in Philadelphia’s western suburbs, accompanied by her daughter Chelsea and her mother. And I recall standing with Hillary in a Center City hotel the night of the Pennsylvania primary election, when she won by a huge margin. What an exhilarating moment that was!
Harman asked how many had been with Hillary in Beijing in 1995 for the U.N. 4th World Conference on Women. My hand shot up, as did a few others. I spotted former State Sen. Connie Williams across the way, and her hand was raised as well. Then Harman reminded us that Hillary had told the world in Beijing, “Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights.”
That elicited great applause from the hundreds of alumnae, students, and elected officials, and the 50 women delegates to this year’s institute. But Hillary told the audience, “Speech is not a policy, [it] does not create change.” If women are not at the table, then the discussion cannot be fully reflective of the needs of all the people, she insisted.
Left to right: State Rep. Tim Briggs; Juliet Goodfriend, CEO of Bryn Mawr Film Institute; and Lynn Yeakel, of Drexel Institute for Women’s Health & Leadership.
Clinton certainly believes in the power of women. She asked how many of us had seen the film about Liberia, “Pray the Devil Back to Hell.” When murderous rampages overwhelmed the country, the women of Liberia rose up, marched on the facility where the warring sides were supposedly negotiating for peace, and blockaded the building, not letting anyone leave until the peace had been agreed upon.
She spoke mainly to the delegates from third-world countries which had undergone conflict or civil war, many wearing their colorful native costumes. The goal of The Project is “50 by 50:” to have 50% of the public service positions worldwide held by women by the year 2050.
I am glad I have saved all my “Hillary for President” buttons and signs, because it looks like there is a good chance I will be using them again in a couple of years.