I attended the annual Clinton Global Initiative conference in Chicago last month. I was eager to hear what Hillary Clinton would have to say about what life had in store for her. My feelings for Hillary are, well, complicated.
On the plus side, I admire how she has used her many positions of power to advance girls and women’s rights. She showed that being the First Lady was not just about safe projects, but could be a real source of power. We also both grew up in the suburbs of Chicago rooting for the Cubs.
On the other hand, well, I know she wants to empower girls and women to be all they can be. I bet she gets the same sick feeling in her stomach that I do when she reads about injustice against girls. Who knows, she might have a secret log-in for all those petitions asking for toy companies to stop making everything pink. But where we differ is our faith in poor women.
While discussing her plans for the future with the Clinton Foundation, she dropped this gem:
How do we make sure that pregnant women, particularly poor women, understand the nutrients they should take to support their own and their baby’s health?
I was in such shock that I actually wondered if I’d heard her correctly that when I tweeted it out, I added #NotExactQuote as insurance. But I returned to the video and confirmed the quote at minute 44. Disappointing. But not surprising.
While Hillary has been quite the champion for women and girls, including during her tenure as Secretary of State, she has also strayed when it comes to poor women and girls. Her low-point was her support of her husband’s 1996 “Welfare Reform.” While in the Senate she did try to improve things, but this quote shows why she will continue to fall short.
Rather than start from the position of thinking we need to educate poor women about the importance of nutrition while pregnant, why not start from the position that they want nutritious food, but lack the ability to obtain it? Food deserts, threatened reductions to WIC, and the simple fact that women are in low-paying jobs, thus reducing their ability to buy healthy food. I am sure that there are women who need some nutrition education, but let’s have faith in women, especially those who are pregnant. They may simply know they need to eat healthy, but are unsure how. Give them access to nutritionists, as well as fresh fruit and vegetables.
I’m a long time fan of Hillary, but also a long time critic. Her good intentions can become landmark policy that will raise the status of women and girls in the USA and around the world. But first she needs to question the system not the women.
Veronica Arreola writes the blog Viva la Feminista, where she tries to navigate and understand the intersection between feminism, motherhood and her Latinadad. You can follow her on Twitter @veronicaeye
Image via CGI