Investing in Women with Clinton vs. Fiorina

Hillary_Clinton_April_2015

 

Carly Fiorina

Interestingly, the political equality of women in the United States remains lower that many other countries. The World Economic Forum recently ranked the United States at number 54 in women’s political empowerment in a study of 142 countries. That’s embarrassing.

The two nominees for the 2016 presidential race will be Carly Fiorina and Hillary Clinton. That’s my vision anyway. For the liberals and conservatives who shudder at this thought, stop and take a breath.

Both Clinton and Fiorina have made significant contributions to women’s empowerment around the globe and seeing them as our presidential nominees wouldn’t not only be inspiring, it would upend the 2016 campaign.

Since the world has become more globally connected, we have been made increasingly aware that women’s equal participation in political leadership leads to more prosperous economies and more stable democracies around the world.

Interestingly, the political equality of women in the United States remains lower that many other countries. The World Economic Forum recently ranked the United States at number 54 in women’s political empowerment in a study of 142 countries. That’s embarrassing.

The four countries who have come the closest to closing this gender gap are the countries usually cited by political progressives as more advanced socially and environmentally than the United States: Iceland, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. I have never heard the argument made that perhaps the gender equality in politics in those nations is contributing to these successes, but I suspect that’s the case.

With Clinton and Fiorina as nominees, the role of women globally will take center stage. Take microcredit as just one example.

The United Nations just announced its 15-year plan that includes “eradicating poverty” as on if its top three goals. A lofty goal, yes, but we already know that women are key to stable democracies and increased prosperity. We also know that the majority of the world’s poor are women. So how do we tap their potential? We invest in them.

At the senate confirmation hearing in 2009 for her nomination as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton spoke of foreign policy and the subject of microcredit. She prefaced these remarks with a personal note about President Obama’s mother, an anthropologist, who planned to attend the microfinance forum at the 1995 Beijing women’s conference where Hillary spoke.

“Ann Dunham was a pioneer in microfinance in Indonesia. In my own work in microfinance around the world…I’ve seen firsthand how small loans given to poor women to start small businesses can raise standards of living and transform local economies.”

At a campaign event in Los Angeles this year I listened to Carly Fiorina discuss the One Woman Initiative, an organization she founded in 2008 that raises money to empower women, particularly in the area of microcredit. She explained to the audience how important microcredit is to the world and that women were “better credit risks.”

She also said, “We know that a woman, when she is invested in, she will invest in return.”

That’s practically a proverb. A female president could be considered an investment in the girls of our nation, and what it would yield can only be contemplated at this point.

The United States can lead the world in this new century, but shedding some of our old ideas regarding leadership and campaigns is necessary first. Election after election, we nod obligingly at the two male contenders for the Oval Office, never questioning this gender inequality with hard analysis.

We have a chance to have two nominees with formidable experience in gender equality worldwide. To have Clinton and Fiorina vying for the presidency  would bring new ideas that challenge the traditional campaign structure of stump speeches and verbal promises.

Neither of them is publicly charismatic, and that is a breath of fresh air. They have nothing to fall back on but their experience and their ideas.

In 1997, as First Lady, Hillary Clinton said, “As we move toward this 21st century, we have an opportunity that has seldom come, if ever, in the history of humankind. We have a world that can, with technology, democracy, and free enterprise extend the benefits of prosperity and peace to countless millions whose lives can be lifted up.”

Recently, Fiorina said, “If we want to solve any problem, poverty, hunger, disease, conflict, we have to get more women involved.”

Many Americans love to  quote the phrase, “Women hold up half the sky.” If it’s true then we also hold up half the Oval Office.

The role of women in solving the world’s problems cannot be ignored, and we have to show the world we are ready to lead. As Americans we cannot exclude ourselves from participating in solutions. Nominating both Fiorina and Clinton as our presidential candidates shows the world that we are more than ready to invest in women.

Jennifer Hall Lee is a filmmaker who lives in Los Angeles. She has spent many years working on Hollywood films,  in visual effects, and used her free time (when she had it!) making her own films. Her latest film, “Feminist: Stories from Women’s Liberation” is being distributed nationally and more public screenings are upcoming, including the Feminism in London Conference! Jennifer was named Global Ambassador for the Global Media Monitoring Project. To schedule an interview with Jennifer or book her as a speaker, she can be reached at jennifer@feministstories.com.

Images via Wikicommons

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