WASHINGTON: 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 US 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 US president. She spoke at a ceremony honouring international human rights activists.
Since Clinton’s loss to the incumbent president 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 US 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 US 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 honour Nadia Murad — a Yazidi human rights activist — and Myanmarese human rights advocate Wai Wai Nu.
Murad — a UN 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 Daesh 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 Daesh 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.-REUTERS