During Variety‘s Power of Women dinner on Wednesday, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton spoke, and the former secretary of state took the Iranian government to task.
“I could not stand up here tonight without also recognizing the brave women in Iran who are standing up for their rights, their freedom against a horrific regime who stays in power in large measure because they oppress women,” Clinton said. “And I could not stand here without thinking about the women in Afghanistan who are being deprived of education, or the women on the front lines in Ukraine who are trying to defend their country against the barbarity of Putin’s invasion.”
“So we have a lot of work to do,” she continued. “It’s work in our own country to keep our progress going and not let the clock be turned back, and it’s also caring about the rest of the world.”
The Clintons are in the midst of promoting “Gutsy,” the Apple TV+ series adapted from their 2019 “Book of Gutsy Women.” On the show, in which the mother-daughter pair appear and which they produced with their new HiddenLight shingle, luminaries from rap star Megan Thee Stallion to labor activist Dolores Huerta share their wisdom.
The series merges the former secretary of state and the health advocate’s cerebral energy with a dose of star power from outside politics. In an interview with Variety for the Power of Women issue, Clinton said, “When we interviewed the really well-known women, like Kim Kardashian, we didn’t want to focus on just her amazing success in business and everything else that goes with it, but on her efforts to help people caught up in the criminal justice system. That’s what was meaningful to us.”
She expanded on that idea Wednesday night, saying, “We showcase a lot of different kinds of women who have done all sorts of things. Some of their own choosing, some because they were challenged, but each of them having to dig down deep to find the resilience and the determination to find their own gutsiness — and not just about themselves, but trying to right injustice. Trying to solve problems for others as well. Because we’re at this moment of reckoning, not only in our country, but around the world, about human rights and women’s rights. It’s critically important that we tell these stories.”
Chelsea spoke directly to the experience of raising children in America in the era of Roe v. Wade’s reversal.
“I am full of palpitating rage as I look at my daughter and realize that she could have fewer rights than I had growing up in this country,” she said. “And I look at my sons and realize that they could, too, because while we’ve talked a lot about abortion tonight, it’s also the right to contraception. It’s the right to equal marriage. It’s the right to privacy. Truly, everything that has enabled all of us to lead our lives is under threat. And while that is acutely and urgently true for women, it is not exclusively true for women.
“This is an existential moment. We certainly need all of us to be gutsy, because I don’t want to go further back. I think a lot about the admonition of the great Coretta Scott King, and others who reminded us that progress has to be defended and protected in every generation. Sometimes we also have to win it back.”
Closing her speech, she added, “We certainly hope that you will take up the call to tell more stories of choice, of privacy, of equal marriage and equal rights because we need you to help defend them, to protect them, to win them back. Because I know I’m not the only parent here. And I know I’m not the only one who’s enraged. And I also know I’m not the only one who’s optimistic.”
Secretary Clinton also remarked on the idea of optimism: “It’s a choice to be optimistic. I have to end with one of the best answers that I ever heard from anybody, from my wonderful late friend and predecessor as Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright. When asked if she were an optimist, she paused and she said, ‘Yes. I’m an optimist who worries a lot.’ So let’s be optimistic. But let’s also make sure that we take our worry into action in order to beat back the dark forces that want to turn us back. Let’s be gutsy together.”
The Clintons, along with Elizabeth Olsen, Oprah Winfrey and Ava DuVernay, and Malala Yousafzai, are honorees at this year’s Power of Women event in Los Angeles.
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