Hillary Clinton Plans Global Review of Women’s Rights

Hillary Clinton plans to lead a review of progress made on issues affecting women and girls since a 1995 Beijing conference on women’s rights.

Clinton, who as first lady led the U.S. delegation to the United Nations conference and made headlines with her speech to the gathering, plans to couple her assessment with initiatives to promote women in business, technology, and agriculture in the developing world.

“It’s time for a full and clear-eyed look at how far we have come, how far we still have to go and what we plan to do together about the unfinished business of the 21th century the full and equal participation of women,” the former secretary of state said today at the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual conference in New York.

The two-year campaign is timed to conclude on the 20th anniversary of the Beijing conference, where Clinton’s declaration that “women’s rights are human rights” helped give the push for gender equality a worldwide profile.

Since leaving the Obama administration in February, Clinton has used her status as the former top U.S. diplomat, U.S. senator from New York and first lady as leverage for philanthropic work through the rechristened Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, the non-profit organization set up by her husband after he left the White House in 2001. She also is drawing interest from Democratic Party leaders as a potential presidential candidate in 2016.

Corporate Partners

Clinton, 65, is enlisting corporate partners in her effort, soliciting contributions from companies including Google Inc., Exxon Mobile Corp., Marriott International Inc., Intel Corp., and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

She said her goals for the project are bringing Internet access to 5 million African women, creating a pipeline of 2,000 female technology employees in developing countries, and providing supplies and mentorship for 15,000 female entrepreneurs in new markets.

“This is such a perfect example of CGI networking,” Clinton told the audience of business executives, foundation heads, and former Clinton administration officials. “Leveraging social capital and real capital. It’s a great combination.”

Clinton hasn’t said whether she would undertake another campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. She was defeated in the 2008 primaries by President Barack Obama.

Favored Candidate

Clinton would start as the leading contender if she decides to run. A poll conducted by CNN/ORC International on Sept. 6-8 showed that 65 percent of Democrats and independents said they would back her as their presidential nominee. Vice President Joe Biden comes in second, at 10 percent.

Clinton says she is enjoying her time outside of the spotlight and a chance to spend more time with her husband, former president Bill Clinton. Neither one of them, she said, has decided what will come next.

“I don’t think even he is, you know, focused on that right now,” she said of Clinton, in an interview with New York Magazine published this week. “Right now, we’re trying to just have the best time we can have doin’ what we’re doin’.”

Backers already have created a fundraising apparatus, the Ready for Hillary super-political action committee. The group is building a database of supporters and donors, lining up endorsements and signing experienced campaign hands. It also raised $1.25 million through the end of June, the majority of it in just one month.

Raising Money

Clinton also is keeping a presence in Democratic campaign circles. She’s hosting two fundraisers on behalf of Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, a long-time friend of the Clinton family. And she’s given paid and free speeches across the country.

Earlier this month, she broke with some in her party to endorse President Barack Obama’s effort to win congressional backing for a military strike in Syria.

More than 1,000 business, government, and philanthropic leaders descended on New York for the Clinton Global Initiative, an annual meeting hosted by the Clinton family foundation. Participants included Lloyd Blankfein, head of the Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., John Chambers, CEO of Cisco Systems Inc., the former head of Microsoft Corp., Bill Gates, Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan, and rock star, Bono.

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