6 Things You Might Not Know About Hillary Clinton’s Famous Beijing Speech
20 years ago, I got the chance to be part of a moment that would change the world. I was in Huairou, China, a small town outside of Beijing, where representatives from non-governmental organizations who couldn’t attend the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women had gathered. When Hillary Clinton stood before delegates from 189 countries to call attention to women’s rights, it was electric.
Women from every corner of the planet had come to Beijing and Huairou for the conference. Everywhere I looked, I saw women translating ideas across languages and cultures. I remember watching women lift up colleagues in wheelchairs when meeting spaces didn’t have elevator access.
We were all determined to be there.
When Hillary told a packed room in Beijing that “human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights,” her message reverberated across the city, and, within hours, became global news. As a young woman, it was so personally meaningful to hear someone of Hillary’s stature give voice to issues that no one was talking about, but women were experiencing in their daily lives. The next day, she came to Huairou to say it again.
Not everyone was so enthusiastic. There were those who viewed this global rallying cry as a threat. There was talk in the surrounding towns that the rainstorms that poured over Beijing that week were because of the influx of women, because “yin” energy — the type of energy that is associated with women — is also associated with water.
Twenty years later, it’s just as important for people to stand up and say that women’s rights are human rights. There are women all over the world who are still denied equality. We’ve come so far, but we still have much to fight for — our right to equal pay, to make our own health care decisions, to choose who we marry.
I haven’t forgotten a second of that conference, even though it’s been two decades. It was a life-changing event — one that raises goosebumps on my arms every time I think about it. I want everyone to have a chance to feel what I felt during that time.
So if you’ve never seen Hillary’s Beijing speech — or even if you know it inside and out — these videos are your chance to experience it through the eyes of those who were there.
1. There were people who didn’t want Hillary to go to Beijing for the conference.
2. Hillary was nervous about making the speech.
3. The speech wasn’t just a broad declaration — it detailed a number of specific injustices that women around the world had been facing.
4. People around the world were immediately shocked at the impact of Hillary’s words.
5. “There was a lot of talk going around that the convening of all these women in Beijing caused a climate change.”
6. Hillary has continued to fight for the things she outlined in that speech — and doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon.