Hillary and Chelsea Clinton took the stage at the 10th Anniversary of the Clinton Presidential Center today to discuss the progress of their No Ceilings initiative.
Hillary began by explaining that the objective of No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project is to gather data to measure the progress of women and girls from the time of her speech in Beijing to the target date of 2016, the 20th anniversary of that speech. She framed three questions:
- What was the agenda?
- What has been accomplished?
- What is left to do?
She noted that progress has been made extending elementary education and some secondary education to girls, more needs to be done to confront infant mortality, and a great deal must be done for women to be perceived as members of the formal labor force and to be included in the formal economy. Identification of barriers to inclusion is essential. Provision of child care so that women can fully participate in a transformed workplace is a goal.
Chelsea then explained that Beijing was a long time ago (“Don’t remind me!” Hillary added). She stressed the role of technology and said that Facebook is the largest community of women in the world and that progress must be measured via data.
An example Chelsea offered is the impact of ebola. She called it a caregivers’ disease which results in caregivers, largely women, also contracting the disease and succumbing in high numbers, but a tangential effect, she pointed out, was the reduction in available women to perform midwife duties and care for newborns resulting in increased infant and maternal mortality.
Key to today’s discussion were questions of what works and what models are scalable and flexible enough to be modified as needed for different cultures and environments.
Hillary spoke about micro-loans and how that model has been successful in preventing dreams from “dying in bank parking lots,” as a young woman once told her. Barriers here include husbands who want to control the assets once the women get the loans.
Guest speakers were local. Annette Dove talked about “Changing Steps” which is meant to inspire and mentor young people from disadvantaged homes to reach higher education goals. Dove spoke of an “imagination gap” that needs to be closed in such communities.
Pierre Ferrari spoke about Heifer, of which he is CEO and which provides livestock after training. Chelsea mentioned that her late grandmother, Dorothy Rodham, gave her a heifer for Christmas every year, Ferrari said the organization donates 1.5 million animals a year mostly to women who, he said, do 70% of the labor. Training includes care of the animal (the asset) and handling the profits. Ferrari said 85% of the decisions are made by women and that data shows that once they have proven their economic skills in the home, the husbands of the women tend to support their participation in the larger economic community.
Hillary, at this point, mentioned the book Beatrice’s Goat, a true story for which she wrote the foreword. Beatrice of the story went on to study in the U.S., interned for Hillary in her Senate office, and eventually got a master’s degree from the Clinton School in public policy.
Hillary also said that the barriers to women’s progress is often surprising. Chelsea offered the recently reported forced sterilizations in India wherein the mothers-in-law are often the ones forcing the daughters-in-law to be sterilized after the requisite number of sons have been produced. One cannot help but notice the proprietary role the mother-in-law takes in such a case coming right on the heels of the livestock discussion. Daughters-in-law are not goats.
Anna Strong from Arkansas Children’s Hospital spoke of several programs offered through the hospital’s auspices including HIPPY (encouraging parents to begin teaching children at home), a health center run out of an elementary school, and an advocacy group for children and families. Hillary added that HIPPY began in Israel during the wave of Ethiopian immigration. As FLOAR Hillary had the founder visit Arkansas.
I lost the feed, and sadly did not get the name of the next excellent speaker who spoke of a single-parent scholarship fund model that began with two funds and has been replicated to 62 funds (eminently scalable). She noted that the funds make a permanent dent in poverty and raise the overall education level in the state.
The key word for the day was, as I said earlier, scalability. All of these programs can be replicated with necessary modifications. The key, as Hillary, Chelsea, and other speakers emphasized is what works. No single formula works everywhere. Hillary stressed that policy decisions should be based on evidence that a program or policy works (or does not work) and not upon ideology.
The Q&A that followed consisted entirely of people’s own creative ideas and models that they wanted to share rather than questions. Well, after all, it was a Clinton event and people are used to CGI formats where you bring forth your ideas and projects.
There was a moment. and it was adorable. We all know that in addition to this No Ceilings initiative, Chelsea and Hillary also have an anti elephant-trafficking effort and Too Small to Fail to encourage parents to help their pre-schoolers be ready for reading and numbers. Part of that effort involves talking to babies and exposing them to words. At one point, Chelsea, in response to a remark by Hillary, referred to “what Grandma said.” I don’t think she even knew she did it, and Hillary did not seem to notice either. In case you wondered what title Hillary bears most proudly, it is, obviously, the one by which her daughter now refers to her. It is also clear with whom Chelsea spends much of her time conversing lately. Earlier, she had said she was “shameless in appreciation of her daughter and her mother.” Yes, Chelsea, we see that! We also agree!
Here is an account of this and other 10th anniversary events thanks to Ruby Cramer who never fails to share! Thank you, Ruby!
Most speakers at the Clinton reunion in Little Rock reminisced about the White House years. At her event here, Hillary Clinton talked about women’s issues, and how to move forward. “You’ve got to be willing to let go of what doesn’t work.”
posted on Nov. 15, 2014