At girls. This violence and treatment can

At the United Nations Fourth
World Conference on Women, in Beijing, China, on September 5, 1995, Hillary
Clinton, the First Lady of the United States at the time, gave a speech. In this speech, Hillary Clinton represents women mainly in
two ways. One way is more stereotypical, because of the location of the
conference, and how Chinese families tended to treat women and girls because of
the one child policy. The other is more celebratory and empowering, because of
her own opinions on women’s rights, as well as because she knows women and
girls are watching, and wants to inspire and empower them.

The location of the United
Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, which was Beijing, China, impacted
the content of Clinton’s speech, and how she represented women in the speech.
At the time, and until very recently, China had a policy where families were
only permitted to have one child, in order to control population growth and
limit consumption of resources. This is known as the one child policy, and
because of this, combined with a traditional preference for boys, baby girls
would be killed or abandoned so a couple could have a boy instead. With
knowledge of this, Clinton likely wrote the speech with the ill treatment of
girls in China in mind. In her speech, Clinton states, “It is a violation of human rights when babies are denied food, or
drowned, or suffocated, or their spines broken, simply because they are born
girls.” This sentence explicitly describes the violence and treatment
baby girls can receive simply because they are girls. This violence and treatment
can be the reason for Clinton representing the social group of women in a more
stereotypical way. In this speech, Clinton focuses heavily on the woman and the
family, emphasizing that with equal rights for women, “their families will
flourish.” It can be inferred that she is speaking against the traditional favouritism
for baby boys and men that appears in China, as she is saying that if women are,
firstly, allowed to live, then receive an education, healthcare and be free of
violence, and are allowed to work and equally contribute to society, their
families will flourish and be successful, even though they are women and there
is a bias that exists. Adding onto this, the violent treatment of women and the
resulting inequality in the population shows that before attempting to jump too
far, Clinton wants to spread the message of starting small. The end goal is
equality, but by representing women in stereotypical ways, Clinton is
emphasizing that women are important and have roles in the family, which China
traditionally values. Clinton mentions that at the time of her speech, during
her speech, “women around the world are giving birth, raising children, cooking
meals, washing clothes, cleaning houses, planting crops, working on assembly
lines, running companies, and running countries.” While some of the actions
Clinton listed here are most definitely not stereotypical, such as the mention
of women running countries, the majority of those actions are stereotypical,
and family oriented. If the Chinese population values family heavily, then
placing an emphasis on a woman’s role in the family as well as in the household
could begin to pave the path to equal treatment, or, at the very least, an end
to the violent favouritism of baby boys over baby girls.

Clinton ensures to include the empowerment of women in this speech. She does
not let herself speak stereotypically of women throughout the entirety of the
speech. She also includes the theme of female empowerment, as well as inspiration
for the women and girls who will hear her words. At the beginning of the
speech, she calls the conference, “truly a celebration, a celebration of the
contributions women make in every aspect of life.” This allows the audience,
especially those who happen to be women, feel proud, and motivated to do
everything they can to help make equality of women a reality throughout the
world. Clinton has always been known as a feminist, and in this speech makes
this knowledge known. She discusses how she has spent 25 years working on
issues that relate to women, children and families, and the two and a half years
prior to this speech learning more about the challenges women in the United
States and other countries face. Clinton ends the speech with a call to action.
She talks directly to her audience, to the world, saying, “Now it is the time
to act on behalf of women everywhere.” By speaking and acting on behalf of
women everywhere in this speech, Clinton is giving a voice to the women who
aren’t heard. Clinton is giving empowerment to the women she speaks about in
her speech. She concludes the speech with a last bit of empowerment and
motivation, telling the audience, “The time is now. We must move beyond
rhetoric. We must move beyond recognition of problems to working together.” Hillary
Clinton’s feminist values are the reason that she includes this empowerment and
motivation for action within the speech. Even by making the decision, as the
First Lady of the United States of America, to establish her own individual
political identity, she is inspiring women and young girls everywhere, by
showing them that they too can make a difference, and, if they choose, they can
lead a country or give speeches like this. Overall, Clinton develops the theme
of female empowerment in this speech using her feminist values and knowledge of
her audience.

In conclusion, in her speech at
the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, Hillary Clinton indeed
represents women in a stereotypical manner, because of the initial audience and
their traditional views and values on family and men, in order to attempt to
pave the path to equality of women. She also creates a theme of female
empowerment using her feminist values and knowledge of the impact her words and
actions could have on women and young girls. 


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