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Hillary Clinton calls for equal pay, gender equality

Hillary Clinton

New York:  US presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has cited the example of Indian women entrepreneurs joining forces to secure micro-finance loans as she made a clarion call to achieving equal pay, ending sexual violence and providing equal opportunities to women across the world.

In one of her first major speeches to a global audience following her announcement to run for US President, Clinton, 67, told a gathering at the sixth annual ‘Women in the World’ summit here yesterday that men and women equally have to be the “agent of change” and contribute to the progress required to ensure an equal world for all.

Exuding hope that the world is closer than ever before to achieving such change, Clinton cited the example of how women in India, Bangladesh and Liberia are joining forces to improve their lives and secure their rights.

“We have seen women all over the world become agents of change, drivers of progress, makers of peace. I have seen penniless women in India and Bangladesh banding together to secure micro-finance loans and start their own small businesses,” Clinton said to a packed audience of celebrities, entrepreneurs, activists and students.

“So many women are still paid less than men for the same work, with even wider gaps for women of colour,” she said.

While quoting from a World Economic Forum ranking that places the US 65th out of 142 nations on equal pay, Clinton said, “Imagine that, we should be number one,”.

“When women are held back, our country is held back. When women get ahead, everyone gets ahead,” she said.

Clinton also termed as “outrageous” that America is the only country in the developed world that does not guarantee paid leave to mothers of newborns.

“It is hard to believe that in 2015 so many women still pay a price for being mothers,” she said.

Stressing on the need for national institutions to respond to the continuing scourge of sexual assault, Clinton said gays and transgenders should be embraced as colleagues and friends and not “fired from good jobs because of who they love and who they are.”

She said the fight for equal rights for women was not a struggle just for women.

“These have to be America’s fights and the world’s fights. We have to take them on and win them together,” she said.

“We have to have leaders who recognise that the time has come. Yet there are those who offer themselves as leaders who take a very different view, who offer themselves as leaders who see nothing wrong with denying women equal pay,” she said.

Clinton added that there has “never been a better time in history to be born a female” as she noted the tremendous progress made over the years across nations to end domestic violence, close the gender gap in primary school and improving maternal health.

She, however, said that despite all the progress made, “we are just not there yet.”

“That is the dream we share, that is the fight we must wage. We are so close, closer than we have ever been,” she said adding that strong women make strong families, which in turn make countries strong.

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