A Global Approach to Women's Rights

A Global Approach to Women's Rights

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Chelsea Clinton, vice chair of the Clinton Foundation, and Anju Malhotra, principal advisor on gender and human rights at UNICEF, join ABC News Nightline's Juju Chang to discuss the progress of women's rights around the world. Clinton and Malhotra consider obstacles to full gender equality in a variety of cultural and economic settings across the world. Malhotra describes her work with UNICEF, highlighting, among other issues, the troubling prevalence of child marriage and child labor worldwide. Clinton emphasizes the need for legal and normative shifts in societies where women face both cultural and political inhibitors to their rights. Over the course of the discussion, the two speakers consider a range of other topics, including women's health, childhood education, and women's political participation.

CHANG: Good morning, everyone. I want to welcome you to today's Council on Foreign Relations meeting. The title of which is "Women's Rights as Human Rights: The Path to Full Participation." I want to start by introducing the fabulous women who are sitting to my left.

Chelsea Clinton, as you know, is vice-chair of the Bill, Hilary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation. She has a big role in the Clinton Global Initiatives, as well as CGI University, which works to empower the next generation of change, as well as the Clinton Health Access Initiative. She also focuses on the Foundation's initiative No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project. So obviously relevant for today's discussion.

You probably all know she's also a former management consultant with Kinsey. She made stops in finance and in media with NBC News. And she is also a new mom to baby Charlotte. So as a working mom, welcome to the jungle.

And to her left is Anju. We were supposed to, as a program note, be joined by Geeta Rao Gupta, but four UNICEF workers were killed in Somalia by a roadside bomb, so she is attending their funeral today. But we miss her and we wish the best for her and everyone at the family of UNICEF.

But to my left I have the distinct pleasure of introducing Anju Malhotra, who is Geeta's colleague at UN. She's the principal advisor for gender and development at UNICEF. She has worked to develop the gender action plan for a number of years. Before that, she was vice president for research at the International Center for Research on Women.

And before that she was also assistant professor at the Center on Population, Gender, and Social Equality at the University of Maryland. And she joins us with her prestigious knowledge and experience.

So we are going to get underway with this idea that it's been 20 years since, Chelsea, your mom went to the Beijing conference as First Lady and made the proclamation, really, that women's rights are human rights. And for the next 20 years there have been policy initiatives and all sorts of political momentum.

Give us a sense of some of the gains and some of the gaps along the way and what that was like, you know, as a 19-year-old looking forward as that generation of women.

CLINTON: Well, thank you. And thank you to the Council for hosting us this morning. I am so excited to be here, particularly because of Rachel Vogelstein, who is here at the Council doing such important work on women and girls, and who was a core driver and author of the Full Participation Report and roadmap forward.

So I'm always grateful to have an excuse to be back with Rachel.

And to be on the stage with Anju, who has done such tremendous work, particularly in helping ensure that kind of more people have access and understanding of what UNICEF does and how UNICEF's work is intimately tied to what we're talking about here this morning.

I was actually 15 when my mom was in Beijing, and I remember vividly watching her speech in that sort of, kind of beautiful pink suit in which she said kind of so emphatically something that was censored at the time in China and was quite controversial, that women's rights are human rights and human rights are women's rights.

And as we think about sort of the 20 years from '95 until today, there are sort of two top lines. One, as we start the report with, it's never been a better time to be born a girl or to be a female in the world.

And two, we have made real progress when we think about education, health, economic opportunity, and participation for women and girls, but we are very far from success. In no country does a girl have the same rights, opportunities, and social and cultural expectations as her brothers, or as the boys in her cohort.

And so a couple of illustrative examples. When we think about education, and we've almost entirely closed the primary school education gap around the world, largely because we've removed school fees so that parents don't have to make a decision as to whether or not, it's sort of equally of important value to send a girl as a boy to school.

That's not true everywhere. There's still gaps that remain, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, but we've almost closed the primary school gap. But the picture looks radically different when we look at secondary school in which the gap sort of widens and then yawns, particularly in some countries.

When we think about Mozambique or Burkina Faso or Niger, fewer than 10 percent of girls graduate from secondary school, high school.

So we've made real progress, but to ensure that every girl has the educational opportunity, we know we need to do more like ensuring that secondary school fees are removed in the same way that primary school fees have largely been in the last couple of decades.

And then sort of one other example in which we've not made as much progress. In 1995, the labor force participation rate for women was 55 percent at a global level. 55 percent of women 16 or older were either in school or working in the formal economy. In 2014, it was 55 percent. So that's not progress. That's inertia.

And we know a lot about why we have been stuck. There are a number of countries in which women are still legally prohibited from working certain jobs. And that's actually not only in what we generally think of as the developing world. In Russia (inaudible) in pay. In many countries women can't open their own bank accounts or take out their own loans without a male cosignatory, and so that radically diminishes the prospects for women entrepreneurship.

And so we know kind of we've made progress in some areas. We know a lot about what works and we need to be doing more of that. And we know there are other areas where we have lamentably not made progress. And we know a lot about what the barriers are that we need to continue to overcome so that we truly unlock the full potential for women and girls.

CHANG: Anju, let's get you to talk a little bit about the barriers to full gender equality. I mean, we're talking about ages in which young girls move into more household roles, and that that remains a barrier, whether it's, you know, child marriage (ph) or starting a family. These are issues that still hold women back.

MALHOTRA: Yes. It's—both, as Chelsea says, we have made progress on many fronts. I was in India a couple of years ago and the colleague who was with me took me to his village and was showing me that 20 years ago his sister had to go in a rickshaw because she was the only one of two girls who was going to school and it was so unusual that she had to be taken in a rickshaw, otherwise she'd be harassed by people around.

And when we were there, pretty much every girl was going to school. All these little girls and even teenage girls dressed in uniforms going to school—that's the big change that's happened. You see them everywhere.

But at the same time, if we look at some of the numbers right now, UNICEF just did a recent calculation—700 million women alive today were married as children. And when you look at that number, I mean, 700 million, that's staggering. How many other indicators can you look at that are that huge?

And if you think about 700 million women who wouldn't have been married at 13 or 14 or 9 or 16, what they would have been doing, they would have been going to school, they would have been part of an economy, they wouldn't have been dying in childbirth, they wouldn't have had children die in childbirth. They would have been moving their families' economies forward.

So that's—that's a huge potential lost and that's part of what we're looking at. We're now estimating that in the next 30 years there will still be 700 million girls married as children, even though rates are declining. We have more adolescents in the world today than we used to have and so more girls are at risk. So we need to find ways of investing in those girls, not just at the primary school but especially during those middle adolescent years we all—we were talking about my daughter going to college in September.

And she has dreamed that and she's excited and there are just so many girls who are losing their childhood, you know, at 7 or 8, they're fetching water, they're doing household chores, and then that's the vision that their family and their society has for them. And it's not unusual, I mean, it's not that—people somehow think it's always the right thing to do, but it seems to be the only thing to do unless there are other opportunities and other push for them to have alternatives.

CLINTON: And I would just say, to build on what Anju was saying, I think that child marriage really illuminates why we need both changes in formal laws as well as cultural and social normative shifts.

CHANG: Sure.

CLINTON: And so when we think about the 700 million women who are alive today who were married before 18, many of them were actually married before 15. We know that changes in laws really do impact whether or not girls are married before they're really of a legal age to consent.

And so I think it's important that those of us that have platforms like this and like CFR highlight when countries do make those shifts. So I know Malawi in the last couple of months has moved to eliminate child marriage by making it illegal for people under 18 to get married. And that's hugely important and CFR's done a good job of highlighting that.

Because I think things that are sort of in the legal domain often are seen as not as sexy and not as interesting, but they're actually hugely important.

And this is also an area where I think the United States still has work to do. I mean, in the U.S. there are many states that still have laws on the books that permit children to get married, albeit with parental consent, but Massachusetts, it's still legal for a 12-year-old to get married, where that, I think, is appalling. I know you're all sort of looking around. And in other states, 13, 14.

CHANG: Exactly. Talk about cultural norms.

CLINTON: And they're draconian. I mean, they're laws that have been on the books literally for centuries. But I think to ensure that we have the moral authority as a country to kind of continue to make the case for why investing in women and girls isn't just the right thing to do but the smart thing to do.

CHANG: And that moral authority is an echo to the Beijing conference 20 years ago.

So Anju, let me get you to talk a little bit about what—what we discussed was the low-hanging fruit that was picked in the last 20 years. And moving forward, that path is a little more difficult. The work gets a little harder because there isn't as much easy low-hanging fruit.

How do you prioritize as you look forward for the next 20 years?

MALHOTRA: I think we—we have learned some lessons. We paid attention in the last 20 years, but there are two really missing pieces that as we move forward that we need to think about. And the two words that come to my mind are scale and ambition.

I say scale because we tend to often have done projects and initiatives that focus on women and girls' wellbeing or empowerment, but they've always been by NGOs, run—done for 200 girls, 500 girls, maybe if we're really lucky you know 5,000 girls.

But when we're talking about millions, we really need to think about laws, policies, systems change—how the health system works, how the education system works, what fees are like for secondary schooling, for example, what kind of private sector investment will go into at that kind of education.

And then ambition. So I'm concerned that we're going to be setting the new sustainable development goals this year at the U.N. and girls' education isn't getting quite the attention that it was getting. I mean, if there is one magic bullet in development, girls' education is it. And—and we somehow seem to be quite complacent that we have gotten girls into primary school.

And as the world's moving forward in the 21st century, you know, people who are advantaged, boys, rich girls, are getting tertiary-level education, they're getting STEM education, they're part of a world of technology. And we're still looking at giving just basic primary education to girls.

Of course, they should have primary education. Nobody's saying they should have it at the expense of—secondary education at the expense of primary. But we really need to be ambitious for these girls. We want them to have access to technology. We want them to be part of the 21st century or they're not going to be able to have the power to make the choices that we really want them to make.

So we think—we need to think about not micro-finance for women. We need to think about finance for women, you know. We—we need to up the game quite a bit.

CHANG: Chelsea, let me move you to the economic sphere a little bit. I know that you are very involved and lead the No Ceilings: The Full Participation Plan at the Clinton Foundation. But I also, you know, give us some insights, a little sneak-peek into your life as a new mom, too, because I know it's changed your perspective a little bit. It's changed your parents' perspective.

Do they, like, have a nickname? Does grandma and grandpa have a nickname?

CLINTON: No nicknames yet. I mean, we were talking earlier before we walked out. And I didn't know that I could care anymore emphatically about what I already cared about, until I became a mom and until I had a daughter.

And so everything that we're talking about and everything that we sort of obsessively kind of think about and talk about, in my family and at the Foundation, around how we solve some of the systemic challenges that Anju was just talking about, now has a visceral dimension to complement the kind of intellectual kind of arguments.

So absolutely. When we think about educational opportunities or kind of health opportunities for Charlotte, or maternal health, that has a different resonance for me. An area where we have made progress as a world is around maternal health. We've cut the maternal mortality rate by more than 40 percent in the last 20 years. And that's tremendous progress.

But still, 800 women every day die of preventable complications related to childbirth and their pregnancies.

So I now feel a different level of responsibility to try to help to continue to decrease that number. And so I'm so proud of the work we're doing through the Clinton Health Access Initiative to help decrease the price and then increase the accessibility of reversible, long-lasting injectable contraceptives so that more women around the world have more private access to make the right family planning choices for themselves and for their children.

So I think, for me, just Charlotte being in my life, that kind of motivates me to work even harder and even smarter and to try to be more ambitious. I mean, I think what Anju said is so right, kind of that I hope with the sustainable development goals we are really ambitious because I do think increasingly there's recognition that fully incorporating women and girls is the closest thing that we have to a silver bullet in development, and yet, at the moment, our commitments aren't reflective of that kind of recognition. And I hope that we'll get there before September.

CHANG: But I loved what you said about your dad and how hands-on he is.

CLINTON: He is. He is. And that—as we were also talking about, I mean, men and boys have to be part of ensuring full participation for women and girls. And that's something that the U.N. community more broadly has really put a focus on this year in advance of September, and I think that's so smart. And I think it's something that all of us could learn from.

CHANG: Studies show that women actually do better in the workplace when they see their fathers and male figures in their lives doing household duties.

CLINTON: Completely.

CHANG: So Anju, let me get you to talk a little bit about how to frame some of these issues going forward. Because these gender equality issues are not necessarily moral issues, although they have a moral component, but they should be seen by governments and NGOs as—as a strategic issue. That it's good for development, it's good for the economy.

MALHOTRA: Yes, absolutely. I think, and more countries that are—were new to saying, you know, as a rage of countries move from lower income to middle-income and then from middle-income to high income, we start seeing that shift in their perspectives.

Vietnam, for example, is a place where on the one hand you would think that it's moving so fast, maybe there are no gender inequalities, but that's not true. You—you look and especially, for example, in the indigenous communities, the inequalities are quite wide.

But it is a country that is determined to have middle-income status. And then they've realized, well, we can't have middle-income status if a large proportion of our population is uneducated and it doesn't have healthcare and doesn't—isn't part of the political and civil processes.

And I think that sort of just the sheer basic simplicity of it, just like women's rights are human rights, and you know, we say, duh, why was that such an awakening moment? Similarly, I think that duh moment is coming—that how can any country consider itself be developed or sustainable if fifty percent of its population doesn't have the same rights and opportunities. It's impossible.

So that—that sense is dawning on governments that are progressive or at least the governments that are ambitious to a sustainable development agenda. Unfortunately that's not the case everywhere. Not all governments are accountable to their people the way they should be.

But also I think the message, at least at UNICEF that we're trying to send is that it's not like you're going to wave a magic wand when people are 40 and 50 and change their perspectives and their norms and their thinking. It is that we invest in children and it's not that you're going to have men and boys start thinking differently, but they might. It's when you have to teach them from early on, it's—it's the environment that we provide to children from birth to—through adolescence that really shapes when boys see girls going to school with them and when boys see girls—you know, in India there was that horrible rape case last year, if you remember.

And one of the most amazing things was it wasn't just women out on the street, but men were out on the streets. And those were young men who had gone to school with girls and who understood girls as people. And that's—that's one of the most important things that we can say, we can do, that women are people, girls are people that require the same investments and the same rights, same opportunities, for them to prosper but also their countries to prosper.

CLINTON: And this is something that isn't only a conversation among developing countries, sort of middle-income or ambitious to be middle-income countries, but also among developed economies. This is a very public conversation in Japan right now that Prime Minister Abe has—has started and is continuing to push forward because all the research says, out of Japan, out of the OEC (ph), OCD and the IMF, that if labor force participation rates were equal among women and men in Japan, the Japanese economy would have an additional quarter GDP growth per year.

For an economy that grows maybe at one percent and has had a pretty anemic decade, that's a very powerful incentive to ensure that women enter the labor force now, but also that sort of the educational system is reimagined to ensure that kind of more girls want to grow up and enter the labor force.

And something I really respect about how Prime Minister Abe is talking about this and thinking about this from a policy standpoint is that he recognizes ensuring that more women are in the labor force, as many constituent parts. So sort of the educational dimension, ensuring there's more elder care available to support older men and women so that middle age and younger women don't have to play those roles and can enter the labor force.

And recognizing that many things have to coalesce to enable women to enter the labor force in Japan in a major way. But he's clearly committed to figuring it out because, as Anju said, he recognizes it's in Japan's long-term self-interest to do so.

CHANG: Right. There needs to be self-interest. In this context, we're talking about women's rights, and I think I would be remiss if I didn't ask about the presidential race that's underway. And the Clinton Foundation keeps bubbling up a little bit.

And as vice-chair, I felt I needed to ask you, I know that there's been a rules change in terms of money and donations, but a lot of people have questioned, for example, why did the Foundation take money from Saudi Arabia when they didn't treat women as well as perhaps they could? And there's questions even this morning in the New York Times about money coming from Ukraine.

And there's this perception that were favors done in exchange for funding? So I wanted to get your thoughts on that.

CLINTON: Lots of questions in that. We have always partnered with governments, NGOs, foundations who believe the world we do is important. So whether that's around women and girls or smallholder farmers or the injectable, long-lasting reversible contraceptives that we talked about earlier.

And so what the Clinton Foundation has said is that we will be even more transparent, even though Transparency International and others have said we're among the most transparent foundations. We'll disclose donors at a quarterly basis and not just an annual basis.

(Inaudible)st role as the vice-chair, I have a fiduciary responsibility to the tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people being impacted by that work and our staff on the ground in 36 countries, thinking across the Health Access Initiative and the Foundation. So I very much believe that that's the right policy, that we'll be even more transparent, to eliminate any questions while we're in this time we won't take new government funding. But that the work will continue as it is. I think that's the right choice for the people who are being affected by that work.

CHANG: You have a very robust role as vice-chair. You're going to Africa next week. But I'm curious, you also spoke at some number, like 200 universities during the 2008 campaign. Can we see you out on the campaign this time around?

CLINTON: Oh, goodness. My mom's only been running for a week and a half.

(LAUGHTER)

CHANG: Never too early to ask.

CLINTON: And I'm so proud of her. So as a daughter I'm unabashedly and unapologetically biased towards her. And I hope that Charlotte feels the same way about me when she grows up.

(LAUGHTER)

May I be so lucky.

CHANG: She's six months old, I suspect it's true.

CLINTON: Oh, thank you. Yes, yes, when she looks at me she's like desperately trying to crawl.

CHANG: Exactly.

CLINTON: No, on a serious note, my life is very different now than it was in 2008. I'm a mom and my first responsibility is to—is to my daughter and to ensure that she feel the same way that I always felt, that I was the most important person in the world to my parents. And I have a job that I love at the Foundation.

And so very much for this year, I plan on largely kind of being here and, when traveling, traveling for the Foundation, as we talked about, I'm going to Africa next week. And I think we'll see kind of what evolves because certainly all of us try to figure out how to balance roles in our lives. And part of me being a good mom to Charlotte is also being a good daughter to my mom and ensuring that people understand why I believe she's the right person to lead our country at this moment in time.

How I'll figure that out is an open question, but I'm committed to doing so and all advice is very appreciated.

CHANG: Well, we—you'll get a lot of Tweets, no doubt. At this point I want to open the conversation to our members and encourage you to ask questions. I want to start, just because Chelsea's been speaking for a while, with a question for Anju. If someone—just take the microphone, stand up, limit yourself to one question, please, and keep it concise.

Who would like to take the microphone? The person closest to this side and then we'll take you next, OK?

QUESTION: Thank you.

CHANG: State your name and affiliation.

QUESTION: I was very moved this morning by a statement by the Special Rapporteur for the Rights of Migrants regarding the catastrophe in the Mediterranean and elsewhere. And I know Queen Rania has been essential in Jordan.

And I wondered, you know, people are not talking about women, displaced women, stateless women, and the degree to which you can inject, as UNICEF, into the U.N. process, some highlighting of stateless children and women. I think that would be very important and I wonder what kind of role you can play in that regard.

CHANG: Thank you. Excellent question.

MALHOTRA: You raise a really important point, you know. UNICEF is currently facing so many what we call level three emergencies. There is, in the last year we have seen experiences of violence where I'm sitting here today as colleagues of mine have lost their lives and we're honoring them. Last year we were in the same situation in Afghanistan. Two of our colleagues lost loves. And it is part of a process where entire economies are being disheveled and women and children, particularly, in Syria, in other places, are—are suffering.

And UNICEF and I think the world needs to really understand and appreciate that fragile states are not just harmful for the sustainability of the world that we are a part of because everyday that we ignore that fact, our stability is threatened, but that there are millions of people who face a generation that's going to be lost.

And if we want to reverse that, then investing not just in the protection, but the wellbeing of those people is critical. And—and one of the most interesting experiences I had was I was at the Zaatari camp in Jordan where the Syrian refugees are there. And it's actually really heartbreaking to see how that camp has become established over time.

You know, there were 20,000 people there a while back, but now it's a city. I mean, UNICEF used to bring water by trucks but now we've dug boreholes. And because all these people—people need water.

But what's interesting is that what we've gone from is from having just the basic food and water and shelter type of argument but to really protection in terms of protection against sexual violence that a lot of women and girls, in particular, are facing in those circumstances. But also what women in particular are asking is education for their children. And this is surprising and stunning, but that's what brings stability. It's the access to basic healthcare and it's access to basic schooling that makes them feel like there may be stability and there's investment and there's a possibility of eventually getting out of this situation, and it's the best reason for hope.

So UNICEF is investing hugely and I know that there is talk right now about increasing—setting up a fund for humanitarian assistance that's beyond what we have done in the past. And it's certainly something that deserves a lot of attention.

CHANG: Yes. We need a microphone.

QUESTION: We fully support and are trying to get strong—right now, of course, the sustainable development goals are pretty much fixed, but I think the battle now is on the targets and indicators and we want those to be as strong as they possibly can for women's education.

I want to draw you out on another aspect of women, Security Council Resolution 13.25 and subsequent calling for greater participation of women in peace and security issues.

And if I can offer one example, I'm thinking of Navi Pillay, former High Commissioner for Human Rights. She was on the War Crimes Tribunal for Rwanda. She was the only woman Justice there. And when the cases were brought to her, there were no allegations of gender-based violence, and she was incredulous. She said that's impossible. So she did a little bit of digging and then there was an avalanche of allegations. But it took a woman to do that.

So as women suffer disproportionately in conflict, we find they are not at the table when it comes time to resolve these conflicts, and I'd like your comments on that.

(APPLAUSE)

CHANG: Great question, thank you.

MALHOTRA: Chelsea, did you want to say...?

CLINTON: Sure. I think for others who may not be as familiar with 13.25, that resolution's now 15 years old. So this is not something that recently surfaced as a priority and we're still working toward it.

And I think there are a couple of kind of things embedded in your question that help kind of highlight the path forward. Although there have been women on every tribunal since 2000, often it's just been one. And so while it is certainly important that women are at the table, until there are more women kind of helping to curate and drive the conversation, I don't think we'll sort of see the systematic shift ensure that issues that disproportionately affect women and children are core to what follows after a tragedy.

And so I think part of it is moving away from single representation as somehow success, or kind of mistaking progress for success. I would argue we see the same thing in the political sphere. 12 percent of national parliaments in 1995 were women. It was 18 percent in 2014. So you can either think, oh wow, right, there was a 50 percent increase. That seems like a really exciting statistic until you realize it's still 18 percent.

And I think there are similar analogues to that in the security conversation, not only from a legal tribunal standpoint but when we think about who the peace and security negotiators are, whether at sort of a local level or an international level. And I know that's something that UNICEF has been very focused on to ensure that children are on the agenda.

Because I think, again, often kind of women are talked about as somehow being fully representative of family issues, and while it's terrific that women's sanctity of person is now part of peace and security negotiations, children's sanctity of person has to be, as well, given that they similarly suffer incredibly high rates of violence and tragically sexual assault, particularly in refugee situations and post-conflict situations.

And that's something that UNICEF continues to push forward. And we're not quite where we need to be in terms of what our expectations are of tribunals in terms of constitution or commitment to dealing with certain issues or negotiators, but again, we've made progress. We just have to keep—keep pushing forward.

MALHOTRA: Yeah, and I would just add that this point of having a critical mass of representation makes a huge difference. We know, for example, and your point about political representation and political leadership, I mean, we don't have a woman president of this country yet, right?

So—whoops. So there is that critical representation matters and there are so many countries where quotas on women's political participation, women being at the table at the highest levels and boards, Norway is an example, actually does make a difference. And so that requirement of representation isn't token, but it's something serious.

CHANG: It reminds me of the Sandra Day O'Connor quote when she said her happiest day was, I guess it was the notorious RBG, when Ruth Bader Ginsburg walked into the Supreme Court.

I saw more hands in here. Let's go to one in the back, in the green.

QUESTION: Thank you. Thank you all for a wonderful discussion this morning. I wanted to return to a question that Juju put earlier, which is to discuss some of the outliers, Gulf countries, Saudi Arabia. And given the leverage that CGI might have, is it possible to take up issues like access to sport for 12 million girls in the country, denial of physical education, denial of sort of the right to be in the public space? Where can—how can we bring women's rights to some of the places where the situation has been so bad for so long that it's really out of the discussion?

CLINTON: Well, certainly from the Clinton Foundation's perspective, if you go to NoCeilings.org, you'll see it's very clear kind of who the outliers are in any of these dimensions. So whether it's women's labor force participation in which the United States is one of only nine countries around the world to not have paid leave for mothers of new infants, you know, I think that's shameful. And we are in the company of largely small island nation states in the South Pacific who have significantly fewer resources than we do to say that we recognize the first few months in a child's life are critical to his or her future health. And also a mother's health, as well.

We see similarly, whether we're looking at Saudi Arabia or other countries in which women have fewer political participation rates. That's also equally called out. Whether it's also then on the other side highlighting, as Anju was talking about, kind of areas that have made real progress by instituting quotas, whether that's at the board level from an economic standpoint or a political level. In India where village councils now have mandated 50 percent political participation, and that's made a tremendous difference in terms of how local councils are investing in education and healthcare, particularly around children and notably for girls.

CHANG: And yet how do you leverage the moral authority that we talked about earlier...

CLINTON: I think we talk about it when we shine light on it. So certainly we're doing everything we can to shine a light on it through our No Ceilings work and more broadly as a Foundation, both talking about places where there hasn't been progress. But also highlighting places where there really has been progress.

India's often talked about as the place where there are tens of millions of child brides. I think it's important to also talk about where India's made progress, hopefully to in a not so subtle way put positive pressure on places where there's lots of progress to be made. To say you can make progress in some areas. Here are some examples so that we don't tend to think, oh gosh, there's so many gaps.

Because I do think it's really important for us to have the humility to recognize where we ourselves still have challenges to helping solve the gaps. And of course they're not at the same level of Saudi Arabia. They're not at the same level of Niger, which has one of the highest child marriage rates in the world where girls almost never graduate from secondary school. It's not remotely to have the moral or strategic equivalency.

CHANG: Equivalency, yeah.

CLINTON: It's just to say nowhere are girls and women able to equally participate. We all have a responsibility. And I think for us in the United States, to be able to say about another country we think A, B, and C need to be done, we also have to be willing to say here's what we think needs to happen in our own country.

CHANG: Anju, do you want to dovetail on that or do you want to go to the next?

MALHOTRA: No, I just wanted to add that we have learned over the last 20 years since Beijing that we have to find that right balance between holding people accountable by shining a light on the negative with the—with the encouragement that you can give by modeling good behavior.

And if you shine the light on the positives and really celebrate them, there's also a lot of advantage in bringing people along that way. And certainly on gender issues, you know. I lead gender at UNICEF and I find when I want my health colleagues to work with me and my education colleagues and my water and sanitation colleagues to work with me, I get more done by showing them the good things they're doing and how they can improve than by wagging a finger at them and saying you're not doing enough.

So there is value to that, as well.

CHANG: More hands over here. Yes?

QUESTION: Hi. I've really enjoyed both of your comments on the global challenges that we face, but I'm wondering if you could speak a little bit about the challenges women face here in the U.S., women and girls, and how we might address them. Thanks.

CLINTON: Sure, well, I mean, we've talked about one, which I know that I'm so emphatic about as a new mom, the absence of paid maternal leave. Something that we were talking about earlier as a possible topic was the whole field of STEM education and STEM participation.

(AUDIO GAP)

Yes, thank you, Santa Claus, a Commodore. Something that my daughter's never even going to understand what a Commodore is or was. And women were more than a third of computer science graduates. When I graduated from Stanford in 2001, in the heart of Silicon Valley, women were just under 21 percent. And last year women were less than 13 percent.

And so even while the denominator has grown, more places are offering more degrees in the STEM fields and in computer science in particular, the number of women who are participating continues to shrink. And we know now a lot about why that is.

And it starts pretty early on. So in first, second, and third grade, girls at the same rate as boys say that they want to be astronauts or be engineers, build bridges, kind of all sorts of things that relate to STEM. That starts to change in fourth grade. And one of the reasons it may start to change is because in fourth grade girls start getting called less in school by science and math teachers. Both men and women science and math teachers.

And so we know that we have a lot of work to do to ensure that kind of parents are helping their daughters have pretty resilient expectations that their opinions and ambitions in science and math are just as valued. We know we need to do more in teacher training to ensure that teachers are aware of the unconscious biases that we all have, not to stigmatize, but to help people overcome those for their students.

And then we know we need to do more to support girls in later years as well. And a lot of it also comes back to closing the imagination gap. When Anju was talking about being in India and there being so many more girls in school, and what a radical difference that then makes to how girls and boys see the opportunities for girls, we need more STEM ideals and role models that look more like America.

I think it is terrific that Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook when he was still in college and that's an amazing incentive to young people to literally reimagine how we connect and live in the world. But we need more people that look like Anju in the STEM fields that are held up as real examples because certainly when Pinterest is the only major company in Silicon Valley which more than 20 percent of its engineers are women, and most of their user base are women, there's a real disconnect there.

And thankfully the Valley's really recognized this and so we have more ancillary education while the public school system catches up to incorporating computer science because it's kind of the analogue to what we were talking about earlier with Japan. I mean, Google and the Valley recognizes it's in their long-term interest to ensure that more girls are learning about STEM, imagining themselves in STEM careers. Because otherwise we're going to have a million open jobs in our country.

CHANG: Because that's where the job creation is in those fields.

CLINTON: Absolutely.

CHANG: And so women absolutely need to—it's fascinating to me because the most recent failed sexual discrimination suit in the Valley opened up a lot of this discussion, the gender biases that exist.

Let's take—I'm going to—with you, with the—yes.

QUESTION: Thank you. Just a factoid. Last year in Brisbane, the G20 countries committed to raising women's labor market participation rates by 25 percent by the year 2025. What that means is open to question. But anyway—or how it's going to be implemented.

Some years ago in this very room the CFR hosted Benazir Bhutto. It was just before she was about to return to Pakistan. And she was anticipating, as you all know, running again to become Prime Minister. She was asked, in that session, what she would do differently in her second—if she had a second chance to be Prime Minister. And she said, "I would govern more like a woman." She said, "In my first term I was so busy proving I was as tough as a man, as good as a man, as reliable as a man, that I ignored my instincts, for example, to put education higher on the priority list," and so on.

So I wonder, perhaps this is a softball question, I wonder if you could reflect a little bit about women in power, in political power, and the opportunities and constraints that they have governing as women.

CLINTON: Well, never having held a political office, I can only talk about what the research has said and what others have said about their experiences. Because I wouldn't be so presumptuous to speak from my own experience because it doesn't lend itself to that.

A few things that I was thinking about while you were sharing that remarkable anecdote from Prime Minister Bhutto. One, if we look at Rwanda, which is often viewed only through the prism of President Kagame, with more than 50 percent of its parliament now having been women for more than a decade, Rwanda's made radically different budgetary decisions than its neighbors have, both in terms of investing in some of the fields that you talked about, health and education, and also making more long-term investments, making investments not over a 3- or 5-year horizon, but really over a 10- or a 20-year horizon.

So I think this is just another way, as we've all been talking about, where having more women engaged in more long-term thinking as well as more family and generational thinking really does make a difference.

And with Chancellor Merkel recently advocating and then helping to pass the legislation in Germany, now a third of companies listed in Germany—companies in Germany have to have a third of their boards as women, she has said publicly that's something that she's long thought was the right thing to do but it wasn't something that she was comfortable advocating for because she herself is a woman.

And it took clearly years for her in office to get to a point where she felt comfortable actually doing what she thought was strategically and economically the right thing for Germany to do because of her own gender.

 

So I think we see this in so many different ways and it's something that we should be comfortable talking bout and not pretending that it doesn't exist, it being both the bias and kind of it being the ways in which women do make different decisions.

CHANG: I'd be curious your thoughts, I mean, quota is often a dirty word and yet it is often raised as a potential solution. Your thoughts on that?

MALHOTRA: Yes, no, I think that this point of the critical mass matters hugely because when we look at the generations of women who go into power or into high-level jobs, when they are just one or two or few, it's actually harder for them to be women or—and I'm not so comfortable with having a woman mindset or a man mindset. There are plenty of men in power who have made very gender-friendly decisions and have been gender-aware, too.

But—but the point is that once you have company and you get to a comfort zone where it's not just your womanhood that's important in being in power, women then can be more comfortable making those kinds of decisions as—as Chelsea just said, that the issue with quotas is that they're not perfect. We know that India is a great example. Some of it is being abused. There are men who are having their wives or their sisters and mothers represent them basically and holding onto power. But they have made a difference.

Argentina's another example where this 40 percent quota changed in 10 years the entire political landscape and it came with sort of this robust requirement that party lists had to have that quota, it wasn't just that women had to be elected. And it changed the whole way elections worked.

And then seeing women in that space changes the culture. We sometimes say social norms take a long time to change, but sometimes social norms change overnight. I mean, for that kind of change to occur, when we see women in power, when we see our Supreme Court having not just one woman, then it becomes the established fact that this is something we can expect. More girls can aspire, more women can think this is the way to go.

So we do have a long way to go, but—but these are the challenges that we need to address going forward.

CHANG: Chelsea, you said having never held a public office and the journalist in myself can't help myself, do you ever see yourself running for public office?

CLINTON: I don't mind. This is a question that people have been asking me my whole life.

CHANG: I'm sure. So I'm not the first is what you're telling me.

CLINTON: One of my earliest memories, this is something I've talked about publicly, it's true, is being a little girl and my dad was running for reelection as governor. Arkansas was the last state to move away from two-year gubernatorial election cycles. And so my father was often balancing governing and campaigning.

And I have this vivid memory of being in Magnolia, Arkansas, and I was waving a flag because that was my role when I was three or four, waving a flag, and this woman said, "Are you going to run for governor one day?" And I was like I'm three years old and waving a flag.

(LAUGHTER)

But it was awesome that she asked me.

CHANG: Yes, there you go. That's actually good.

CLINTON: It was awesome that she asked me. I very much believe that my life at the moment is through the Clinton Foundation. It's where I can best think about it, work on it, hopefully make a difference in issues that I care most about like so much of what we're talking about here today. And I'm grateful that I live in a city and a state and a country where I support my elected officials.

And so if any of those weren't true at some point, I'd have to ask myself if I thought I was the best person. But at the moment, I'm grateful for the life I have and I'm grateful for the leadership that I live under.

CHANG: And I'm also curious, you know, I think of Michelle Bachelet, right, or Benazir Bhutto, these women who—whose signature policy initiatives are often surrounding girls, women, education. Is that the kind of presidency you think your mother would be casting?

CLINTON: Oh, I wouldn't speak for her.

(LAUGHTER)

I certainly, though—I mean, my mother has been engaged in issues of early childhood education, as one example, since well before I was born. When she was a law student at Yale she started working with the Yale Child Studies Center and then the Children's Defense Fund. And so...

CHANG: And Children's Rights.

CLINTON: And Children's Rights. And women's rights. And kind of access to more equitable and higher education and healthcare for low-income women and families.

And so that's work that she's been doing for literally longer than the 35 years that I've been alive. I think that's more a testament to what she would focus on in her campaign or in office than anything that I could say.

CHANG: Interesting. OK, yes, right there?

QUESTION: Thank you. I wanted to ask you a question about fertility and its relation to opportunity for women in the United States. As many people are aware, you mentioned gender participation, women's participation. It was 20 percent in 1950, rose to 55, 60 percent by the end of the 20th century. That coincided with the rise of birth control pills, access to safe abortion.

Currently we're seeing another trend, which is this new arrival of a new technology, egg freezing. I believe the disparities in pay gap between men and women, which is I think 77 cents on the dollars, exists across all age groups except in the demographic 38 to 42, single, without a child. I'm curious to get your opinion and perspective as to whether you think that increasing access to egg freezing will actually promote women's participation?

You both mentioned long-acting, reversible contraception and ways to prevent early pregnancy as ways to enhance women's participation in the workforce. How does this relate to women's reproductive rights and rights in the workplace?

CLINTON: So a few quick thoughts. One, there is a big conversation that I think is a healthy one around what should insurers cover or what should large employers who are self-insured cover for their employees. And I absolutely agree with your underlying premise that to facilitate and support women's full participation, women's reproductive rights have to be fully guaranteed and supported. And I think that does include optionality.

I also think it's important that more young women be aware of the fact that we've lost ground in this country on reproductive rights and access to safe and legal abortion rights.

And sadly, that recognition is not as widely spread as I think many of us would hope and I see many heads nodding. Millennial women do not know that these rights are being taken away. They do not know that kind of in many states already women who are marginalized because of where they live, their socioeconomic status, are those on whom these reversal of rights are falling most hard.

And so this isn't just again a women's rights issue. This is a human rights issue in a very fundamental sense.

So I think it's both about ensuring that insurance companies and large self-insured employers are taking responsibility for asking these sorts of questions and ensuring that the bias is toward increasing access and meaningful access to different options that maybe right for different women at different points in our lives.

But it's also about ensuring that even younger women beyond the 38 to 41 year olds are aware of the legal and political environments that we're living within so that we don't become any more complacent than sadly so many are. Because it's not just about insurance, it's also about ensuring that we have the legal rights and agencies to make the right choices for ourselves.

CHANG: Anju, do you want to piggyback on that?

MALHOTRA: No, just that I couldn't agree more and I used to teach at a university a course on gender and I would always start the class with girls, women, and boys, men, all sort of saying we don't have gender inequality in the United States. Why should we worry about this?

And it's when we reach to these questions of not guaranteed reproductive rights, the wage gap, the issues that are—our policies are almost behind our culture, you know. We have had a generation that has grown up accepting the fact that you can't have a child when you feel like it, when you're ready, when you can invest in your career and so forth. But now those issues are more and more questioned.

And we need to—we need to really have our young women and men grow up realizing that these are threats to their rights that they are going to have to defend if they want to continue with the lifestyle or have the life options that they—they've had the freedom to engage in in the last generation.

CHANG: We're going to take one last question, right here with the scarf?

QUESTION: Thank you. And we're very fortunate, with the Office of Global Affairs, we're very fortunate to have a grant from the Jewish Foundation of Education of Women for SUNY undergraduate women of all faiths to pursue careers in international relations and global affairs.

So I'd like to ask our speakers if they would recommend or highlight certain things these young women should think about as they're going into the world, graduating this year and next year. They're pre-law, pre-med, human rights interests, as well as engineers and other areas. So I'd love to bring your advice back to them. Thank you.

MALHOTRA: Well, I will just start by saying that we should be encouraging—I'm pleased to see that that's the route in front of them. Having both concrete, tangible skills in things like finance, in STEM, in really being able to understand numbers, statistics, those things matter as much as being able to understand the soft side of how diplomacy works, how political negotiation works, but how personal relations and culture works as well.

And in some ways I think the best equipped generation is the one that can bring those two things together.

CLINTON: I think that's absolutely such salient advice. I'm thrilled that so many of your students want to go into work like Anju is doing or work like what we're doing through No Ceilings at the Foundation, and I would hope there's some men, too, who are similarly inspired and motivated.

And I would just add to what Anju was saying in that, going back to my mom, who Juju's talked about throughout this morning for understandable reasons, my mother has been working on issues of early childhood development and women's rights for so many decades now, and she's been able to do that in many different ways. And so through NGO work, through her legal aid work, through her work as a lawyer, through her work as First Lady, as a Senator, Secretary of State.

And I would urge your students to think about even if they go into finance, to think of how they can still engage with these issues through their employers or even just as an informed voter, that even if they don't work in these fields of the cold face (ph) of so many of the issues that motivate us here today, they can still have an impact. And they can have an impact today and by learning some of the functional skills that Anju was talking about, they can have even more of an impact in the future.

CHANG: Thank you so much. One of the sticklers at the Council, as we all know, is that we have to end on time. I can't thank Anju Malhotra enough and Chelsea Clinton, both of you.

CLINTON: Thank you very much.

CHANG: Fabulous remarks. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

END

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