In 1995, then-First Lady Hillary Clinton declared that "it is time for us to say here in Beijing, and for the world to hear, that it is no longer acceptable to discuss women's rights as separate from human rights."
In the 20 years since that watershed speech, women's rights have become a cause célèbre embraced by the development community, the political class, popular culture and business leaders across the globe. From the White House to the World Bank to the board room of Coca-Cola, talk about the importance of the role of women has been easy to find.
But the question of whether women's realities have evolved alongside their rhetorical prominence remains a pressing one. And now the former Secretary of State says she is gathering a group of actors to offer a progress report on whether the rhetoric matches the on-the-ground reality facing women in the world—and, if not, how best to band together to fill the gaps that remain.
"We agreed to an ambitious platform for action, that called for, and I quote, "The full and equal participation of women in political, civil, economic, social and cultural life,'" Clinton said to a ballroom crowded full of NGO leaders, women's activists, political leaders and CEOs. "In many countries, laws that once permitted the unequal treatment of women have been replaced by laws that recognize, at least on paper, their equality. The international community has come together to sign conventions and approve resolutions promoting the rights and status of women and girls."