Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered the following address to the United Nations’ Fourth World Conference on Women, in Beijing, 25 years ago. Then the first lady of the United States, Clinton famously declared that “women’s rights are human rights,” while criticizing the Chinese government’s coercive family-planning policy and the hardships faced by women around the world. You can read her reflections about this speech upon its 25th anniversary here.
Below, the full text of Clinton’s speech as delivered.
Thank you very much, Gertrude Mongella, for your dedicated work that has brought us to this point. Distinguished delegates and guests, I would like to thank the secretary-general for inviting me to be part of this important United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women. This is truly a celebration—a celebration of the contributions women make in every aspect of life: in the home, on the job, in the community, as mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, learners, workers, citizens, and leaders.
It is also a coming together, much the way women come together every day in every country.
We come together in fields and factories. In village markets and supermarkets. In living rooms and boardrooms. Whether it is while playing with our children in the park or washing clothes in a river or taking a break at the office watercooler, we come together and talk about our aspirations and concerns. And time and again, our talk turns to our children and our families.