On June 11, 2012, then Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton returned to her alma mater to inaugurate a joint initiative between the Seven Sisters and the Department of State dedicated to building a grassroots support system for talented young women from conflict regions who have exhibited leadership skills. As Mme. Secretary stated that June morning at Wellesley …
Around the world, we are hoping to help correct the gender imbalances in public service, not just by working at the top, shattering those glass ceilings, but also at the grassroots level by training and supporting women like those who are here, who have the talent, who have the will, but sometimes not the opportunity to become effective leaders in their nations.
With a chillingly prophetic anecdote*, she explained the rationale for the Women in Public Service Institute (WPSP) and its programs and seminars thus.
I remember being in Cairo last spring, meeting with men and women who had been leaders of the protest in Tahrir Square. And I asked them, “So now, are you starting to organize for politics? Are you beginning to think about how to put together coalitions to run candidates for office?” And I’ll never forget one young man said, “That is not our job. Others will do the politics.” I said, “Oh, excuse me. If you do not participate, then others will hijack your revolution. And they will – (applause) – very often begin from the first day to undermine the hopes and aspirations that you were protesting for.”
Over the coming days, you will work with leading experts and academics, and have the chance to build these relationships that can give you additional insights. You’ll hear from a wide range of women leaders from inside and outside government, women who have organized social movements and civil society organizations, who have started businesses, run for office, and defied the odds throughout their lives. And each of you will be paired with a mentor who will stay in close contact with you after you return home.
There will be seminars on practical skills like how to move legislation through a parliament or hold a press conference, sessions on how to organize grassroots networks and how to lobby public officials, discussions about major challenges like increasing women’s participation in peace negotiations and post-conflict decision making.
This afternoon, she is scheduled to address the young women attending this summer’s institute being held at Bryn Mawr. The event will be livestreamed here. Her remarks are planned to take place at approximately 4 p.m. EDT.
Note: If you missed the livefeed, the video is available at the “on demand” tab.
*(Parenthetically, I must add that Hillary Clinton has unfailingly foreseen events in the Arab world, warned the parties, and been proven correct. This has been true since her initial address as Secretary of State to the Forum for the Future in Morocco when she correctly perceived the aspirations of civil society and outlined three areas of engagement in the region. That speech is worth a read in case you have never seen it. Pay special attention to her remarks about the past. Her words incensed some but proved as prophetic as her remarks to Egyptian youth cited above.)