POLITICS

Hillary Clinton Recalls Her Controversial 'Women's Rights Are Human Rights' Beijing Speech

20/11/2015 12:09 GMT | Updated 20/11/2015 12:59 GMT

Hillary Clinton has recalled her controversial speech on women's rights at a conference in Beijing 20-years ago - which many did not want her to make

In a AOL’s MAKERS documentary titled 'Once and For All', the US presidential candidate thinks back to her 1995 visit to China as First Lady.

In September of that year when her husband Bill was in the White House, over 47,000 outspoken activists hailing from almost every country, religion, and culture on earth – came together in Beijing, China for the largest gathering of women’s advocates in history.

In the midst of this gathering, Hillary Clinton took to the podium, and made a simple but radical declaration that became a global rallying cry: "If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights, once and for all."

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In the wake of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, Clinton's decision to attend and speak at the conference was highly controversial back home in the US.

In the documentary Clinton recalls how there was stiff opposition from both Democrats and Republicans to her attending the summit.

She says: "People were saying: 'this is a not an important issue for the US government, it's a nice thing and I'm glad you care about it, but if the First Lady of the United States goes and actually speaks about women's rights, that elevates an issue that in the midst of everything else going on, the collapse of the USSR and the transition of the former Soviet states and Warsaw Pact nations and Rwanda and Bosnia, there was so much else going on in the world maybe you should speak about it from afar'.

But Clinton says it was "important" for the United States to have been represented at the "highest level" at the conference. "I was determined to go, if the government would not send me officially I was going to fly on my own."

Clinton also recalls the intense surveillance she and other delegates were put under. With Chinese agents monitoring conversations in hotel rooms. "I said to one of my aides I would love to se how the English language papers are coving this in China so i have some idea what they are saying. Literally within minutes there was a knock on the door and a paper was delivered.

She adds: "We had some fun with it, 'oh I'm so hungry, french fries would be good today'.


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