From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
PRESBYTERIANS HEAR HILLARY CLINTON SPEAK
04 May 1996 20:41:33
95318 PRESBYTERIANS HEAR HILLARY CLINTON SPEAK
AT GLOBAL WOMEN'S FORUM
by Julian Shipp
BEIJING--Unanimously describing their experience as "well worth it,"
several members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) braved the logistical
and natural challenges that have become synonymous with the
Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Forum to hear First Lady Hillary Rodham
Clinton speak Sept. 6 to a standing-room-only crowd at Huairou.
Clinton did not speak very long, said Allen H. Neuharth, founder of
"USA TODAY" and chair of The Freedom Foundation, during a press conference,
but she used her time to support the international feminist movement and
the nearly 40,000 Forum participants.
Presbyterians interviewed by the Presbyterian News Service who were
able to hear the First Lady's brief remarks included Yvonne Mathews of
Omaha, Neb.; Judith Henderson of Eastern Oklahoma Presbytery in Oklahoma;
and Connie Fraser of Seattle.
Fraser said Clinton emphasized the importance of the NGO participants
in Huairou, since their work will be used to help draft the United Nations'
Fourth World Conference on Women Platform for Action. Fraser said Clinton
also commended Forum participants with disabilities who were especially
inconvenienced. Rain again fell at the Forum site Sept. 6, complicating
mobility in and out of the area.
According to Henderson, Clinton said it is also important to remember
the status of the girl child, one of the areas delegates to the U.N.
gathering will examine during their Sept. 4-15 conference in Beijing.
"Clinton said that 30 years ago we didn't even know what an NGO was,"
Henderson said. "But women were still there working for a common cause.
Clinton said the NGOs will hold the governments accountable for the action
taken here at this Forum and that the language must be simple, condensed to
a single page, so that all women can understand."
"I was impressed with what she said," Mathews said.
But getting into the hall to see the First Lady was no small feat.
Thousands of Forum participants huddled outside in a sea of umbrellas
singing songs of unity while waiting to be screened by Chinese security
officers under the watchful eye of U.S. Secret Service agents.
Fraser said that from her vantage point outside the Willow Recreation
Club plenary hall, the crowd of women and men began pushing and shoving as
Chinese security officers and volunteers tried desperately to hold them
"All the time we were told to step back and [the Chinese authorities]
were very upset," Fraser said. "We couldn't even get in the hall. We were
in the smallway of the hallway."
Fraser said she was only able to get a glimpse of Clinton but was able
to hear her speech by placing her ear against a wall in the corridor.
"The acoustics were good and clear," Fraser said. "I was proud of
[Clinton]. She spoke really clear and well."
Another conference participant, author and feminist visionary Betty
Friedan, said Clinton's appearance at Huairou was important but should not
overshadow the significance of nearly 40,000 women from all over the world
who have come together to realize the objectives of equality, development,
"I think that Hillary Clinton's speech and the presence of an
unprecedented number of people at Huairou are the reality of this meeting,"
The 35-member PC(USA) group will depart Sept. 7 for Nanjing, China,
where they will continue their travel/study program.
For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
phone 502-569-5504 fax 502-569-8073
E-mail PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
Browse month . . .
Browse month (sort by Source) . . .
Advanced Search & Browse . . .