Remarks by Hillary Rodham Clinton
at December 31st Women's Movement Daycare Center
March 23, 1998
MRS. CLINTON: Thank you very much. (Applause.)
I am delighted to be here with all of you today. It is a great honor tobe atone of the 31st December Women's Movement Daycare Centers and to besurroundedby so many women who are creating a new future for themselves, theirfamilies,and for their nation.
Before I begin, I want to acknowledge all of the dignitaries who are here.
Thank you for coming and making me feel so welcome.
And I want to say a special word of appreciation to my hostess, Mrs.Rawlings. (Applause.) I remember so well our meeting in the White Housein1994. I knew when I met Mrs. Rawlings that I had met a very dynamic,creativeleader. (Applause.) And I have looked forward to this day, along with myhusband, ever since. We have wanted to come to visit Ghana, and I am sopleased that we are here finally today. (Applause.)
I cannot think of a better place to start with my husband on this historictrip to Africa, the first visit ever by a United States President to yourcountry. (Applause.) And I must say that I cannot think of a better waytostart my journey than right here with all of you -- (applause) --surrounded bywomen and men and children, because this is where a country is reallyjudged,isn't it? What do we do for our children?
And I have visited many, many different schools and daycare centers, notonlyin my own country, but throughout the world. And I must say, I have neverseenbrighter, better behaving, more impressive children than the ones I haveseentoday. (Applause.) I would like to take all the children who danced andspokehome with me and -- (laughter and applause) -- tour them around my owncountrybecause I think their messages would be just as welcome in many parts oftheUnited States as they were here today.
Everything we do as individuals, as parents, as grandparents, as citizensbegins with our children -- giving our children the chance to learn, togrow,to dance, to sing, to become who they are meant to be, to give them theopportunity to fulfill their own dreams. And so much of what we give ourchildren depends upon the opportunities and respect we give our women.Becauseif women are empowered, if women are respected, if women are given thechanceto live out their own dreams, then boys and girls will as well. And sowhen Ilook out at this crowd of such distinguished women in so many walks oflife, Iknow that you share my belief.
We have what Efua Sutherland called a "sacred responsibility" to children.And you are showing the world the role that women in Ghana and acrossAfricaare playing in transforming their lives, their communities, and theirnations.Like many of the women throughout Ghana's history and throughout Africa,youhave come together to help build a strong democracy, a strong economy, avibrant civil society, with the dream that every woman will have the healthcare, the education, the jobs and credit, the opportunities she needs tomakethe choices that are right for her. That is a very important part of whatweare attempting to achieve here in your country and in mine -- not that wedictate what a woman's choice will be but that we empower women to make the right choices for themselves. (Applause.)
During my visit to Africa last spring -- and I told Mrs. Rawlings I verymuchwanted to come to Ghana, but I also very much hoped my husband would cometoGhana. And I was told, save Ghana for the President. (Laughter.) So Ihopethat I will be able to return again on my own to see what I have seen inotherparts of Africa as well. (Applause.)
I have seen women building with their own hands their own homes. I haveseenwomen working against diseases that are ravaging the children of yourcontinent. I've seen women working with other women to teach them abouttheirlegal rights. I've met with women working to end the sometimes deadly, butalways inhumane, practice of genital mutilation. And I want tocongratulatethis nation for your leadership, not only by passing a law outlawing thispractice, but by making sure that the law changes hearts and minds so thatindividuals understand what the law means and why it should be enforced inevery village throughout Ghana.
We share common victories and also common challenges. Every day, womenaremanaging the crops, feeding and caring for children, providing water andfuelfor their homes, but every day in too many parts of the world, women arestillbeing fed less and last. Too many are caught in a deadly cycle of conflict andviolence, some in their own homes. Too many are treated as children underthelaws of their nation, unable to buy land, get credit, or receive aninheritance. Too many cannot find good child care like that offered herefortheir children when they have to go out to work.
All of this is now changing thanks to leaders like you. And I want tocommendyou for everything you and your government are doing to ensure that therightsof women are protected and that the voices of women are heard. (Applause.)
All of us must speak out. We must speak out to ensure that no girl iseverdenied an education. Can you imagine the tragedy of seeing these brightyounggirls whom I have seen, listening to them with their pride and confidence,standing and performing in front of such a large group, being told at theageof 10, or 12 or 14, you cannot be educated any further. What a loss. Notonlya loss to the nation, but a loss to their families. So we must ensure that allgirls are enabled to have an education, because when you educate a woman,youdo educate a family and a community and a nation. (Applause.)
We must also speak up to end violence against women in all forms. It does notmatter if that violence is in our homes or on our streets. Violenceagainstwomen must never to dismissed as trivial or explained away as cultural.Violence against women should be called what it is -- a crime -- whether ithappens in Ghana or the United States or anywhere else in the world.(Applause.)
We must speak with one voice -- women across the world. And I'm pleasedthatmy government, through the USAID and the Embassy's Democracy and HumanRightsFund, is working as partners with the women of Ghana.
And today I am pleased to announce that the United States government willprovide $1 million to create Powernet. (Applause.) Powernet will be a newelectronic bridge, linking our two countries across the ocean, linkingwomenfrom all walks of life in the United States and throughout Africa.
We know in the United States that there is much we have to learn from you, andwe want the opportunity to learn from you. You are finding new ways ofresolving conflicts, creating micro-enterprises, improving the health offamilies, improving the legal system, educating girls. This new Powernetwilluse the Internet to create dialogue between us, to enable us to share roadmapsfor successes and strategies for the future.
I am so pleased that this kind of opportunity will enable you and thewomen ofmy country to learn from each other so we can build a stronger, better,morejust world for our children. (Applause.)
Efua Sutherland wrote something that I liked very much. She said: Ourfathers found for us the paths; we are the road makers. They bought for us theland with their blood; we shall build it with our strength. We shallcreate itwith our minds.
With the women of Ghana continuing to lead the way, I know that willhappen.And I want to thank you for your example and for your leadership, for yourencouragement and for all that you are doing, not only to lift up thepeople ofGhana, but to give heart to women, men, and children everywhere.
Thank you all so much. (Applause.)
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