“It’s gotten better, but we’re at a flexion point where I fear it could begin to deteriorate and become worse again”
By Rebekah Kebede
WASHINGTON – (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Although worldwide human rights are at risk with the United States ceding its leadership role, the momentum behind women’s rights has “never been stronger,” former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday.
Women’s rights advocates have become more vocal and show no signs of quieting down, said Clinton, who lost a bid in 2016 to become the first woman U.S. president. She spoke at a ceremony honoring international human rights activists.
Since Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump, women’s rights supporters have staged massive worldwide protest marches and accelerated efforts to promote equal pay and end the gender wage gap.
The #MeToo and #TimesUp social media campaigns have arisen against sexual harassment and misconduct, while a U.S. effort to register new voters and put female candidates in office aims to help roll back Trump’s policies such as restrictions on birth control.
“The steady drumbeat of women demanding to be heard about their experiences has never been stronger,” Clinton said.
“We are not going back, and women’s voices are not shutting up,” she said.
Globally, however, she said human rights are in danger due to a premium on “top-down authority” and less respect for the rule of law.
“It’s gotten better, but we’re at a flexion point where I fear it could begin to deteriorate and become worse again,” Clinton said,
The United States is no longer playing its historical role as a “beacon” for international human rights and justice and as a fighter for those “under the whip and the gun,” she said.
“I don’t want us to grow tired or feel like it’s none of our business anymore,” she said. “We have to do more to reestablish America’s voice in this.”
Clinton spoke at Georgetown University’s Institute for Women, Peace, and Security to honor Nadia Murad, a Yazidi human rights activist, and Wai Wai Nu, a human rights advocate in Myanmar.
Murad, a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking, was one of about 7,000 women and girls from the Yazidi minority captured and sold as sex slaves by Islamic State militants in 2014. She recounted her experience in a book “The Last Girl,” published last year.
Murad said through an interpreter that she was hoping a tribunal set up by the Iraqi government would soon bring Islamic State militants who held Yazidis captive to justice.
“To be honest, I’m not so good because the things that we hoped for and the things that we worked still are not accomplished yet,” she said. “We still are not there yet.”
Wai Wai, a member of the persecuted Rohingya ethnic and religious minority in Myanmar, is a former political prisoner.
(Reporting by Rebekah Kebede, Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst )