Town Hall at EWHA Women's University
Secretary of State, Secretary of State
It is a great privilege to stand here before you on the stage of the largest women’s university in the world. And I came to – (applause) – this university as a matter of destiny, because you see, Ewha and I share a connection. (Cheers and applause.) I am a Methodist, my family on my father’s side comes from Scranton, Pennsylvania – (applause) – and I must say that Wellesley College is a sister college for Ewha University. (Applause.) So being an honorary fellow seems right at home today.
I also note that in this audience are some Korean-American friends from New York and California. There are several Wellesley graduates whom I met backstage as well – (applause) – and an extraordinary number of talented young women, faculty members, and administrators.
Learning about this great university and the role that you have played in advancing the status of women made me think about so many of the women throughout history who are inspirations to me: Madame Scranton, someone who started teaching one young woman, and from her dedication and hard work came this university; Eleanor Roosevelt, a pioneering First Lady of the United States and a voice for democracy around the world, and one of the driving forces behind the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights. Now, that was more than 50 years ago, but just a few weeks ago, one of Korea’s most accomplished leaders, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, called on all nations worldwide to push for more progress on women’s equality. And I want to thank the Secretary General – (applause) – because he said that women’s empowerment is the key to progress in developing nations.
People who think hard about our future come to the same conclusion, that women and others on society’s margins must be afforded the right to fully participate in society, not only because it is morally right, but because it is necessary to strengthen our security and prosperity.
Before I came out on stage, I met a number of young women who are in political office here in the Republic of Korea, and I hope I was looking at a future president of this great nation. (Applause.)
As you think about your own futures, keeping in mind security and prosperity and the role that each of us must play, is essential because of the urgent global challenges we face in the 21st century. We need all of our people’s talents to be on the very forefront of setting a course of peace, progress, and prosperity; be it defending our nations from the threat of nuclear proliferation and terror, or resolving the global climate crisis or the current economic crisis, and promoting civil society, especially women’s rights and education, healthcare, clean energy, good governance, the rule of law, and free and fair elections. All of these matters speak to our common desire to make a nation that is safe and strong and secure.
More than half a century ago, this university became the first to prepare women for professions that were formerly reserved for men, including medicine, law, science, and journalism. At about the same time, your government wrote women’s equality into your constitution and guaranteed protections for women in employment. And there have been other rights and protections for women encoded in Korean law in subsequent decades.
These advances coincided with Korea’s transformation from an undeveloped nation to a dynamic democracy, a global economic power, and a hub of technology and innovation. The inclusion of women in the political and economic equation, calling on those talents and contributions from the entire population, not just the male half, was essential to the progress that this country has made.
As I have been on this first trip as Secretary of State, I have visited Japan and Indonesia, and tomorrow I will be in China. I was very impressed by my visit to Indonesia, a young democracy that is demonstrating to the world that democracy, Islam, modernity, and women’s rights can coexist. I met elected women officials. I met high appointed members in the foreign ministry and other cabinet positions in the government. It would be hard to imagine the progress that Indonesia has made in the last ten years, moving from a stagnant autocracy to a burgeoning democracy, without women being part of the reason.
And on Sunday, I’ll meet with women in China to hear about their efforts to improve opportunities for themselves in their own country, another reason why women have to lead the way if there’s going to be higher standards of living, a healthier population, and an actively engaged citizenry.
But no country has yet achieved full equality for women. We still have work to do, don’t we? And just a few weeks ago, President Obama signed into law a new provision protecting women from salary discrimination, a step that was overdue. So there is a lot ahead of us to ensure that gender equality, as President Lee mentioned, becomes a reality. And we also need to remain vigilant against a backlash that tries to turn the clock back on women and human rights, countries where leaders are threatened by the idea of freedom and democracy and women are made the scapegoats. The abuses of women under the Taliban are horrific reminders that just as women had been central to progress in countries like ours, the reverse can happen as well.
Some of you may have seen the news reports some weeks ago of young girls in Afghanistan who were so eager to go to school, and every day they went off with a real light in their eyes because they were finally able to learn. And one day, a group of these young girls were assaulted by a group of Taliban men who threw acid on them because they had the desire to learn. We have to remain vigilant on behalf of women’s rights.
We see this kind of suppression in different forms in different places. In Burma, the valor of Aung San Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for her courageous struggle for freedom of expression and conscience. To the North, 70 percent of those leaving North Korea in search of a better life are women, a sad commentary on the conditions in their own country.
So part of my message during this trip and part of my mission as Secretary of State is that the United States is committed to advancing the rights of women to lead more equitable, prosperous lives in safe societies. I view this not only as a moral issue, but as a security issue. I think that it’s imperative that nations like ours stand up for the rights of women. It is not ancillary to our progress; it is central.
In 1995, when I went to the United Nations Conference on Women in Beijing and said that women’s rights were human rights, and human rights were women’s rights, people were so excited. But that to me was almost a sad commentary that we had to say something so obvious toward the end of the 20th century.
So here we are in the 21st century, and every day we make progress, but we can’t be complacent. We have to highlight the importance of inclusion for women. We have to make clear that no democracy can exist without women’s full participation; no economy can be truly a free market without women involved.
I want to use robust diplomacy and development to strengthen our partnerships with other governments and create collaborative networks of people and nongovernmental organizations to find innovative solutions to global problems – what we call smart power.
Today, I’ve come to this great women’s university to hear your thoughts about the future. The other night in Tokyo, I had the privilege to listen to students at Tokyo University, and I came away not only impressed by their intelligence and the quality of their questions, but encouraged by their concern about the future that lay ahead and what each of them wanted to do to make it better.
Today, I’ve held bilateral meetings with your president, your prime minister, and your foreign minister. We have discussed issues like the need to continue the Six-Party Talks to bring about the complete and verifiable denuclearization in North Korea, and how we can better coordinate not only between ourselves, but regionally and globally, on the range of issues that confront us. But in each meeting, we took time to reflect about how far this country has come.
Back in the early 1960s, there were a series of studies done where different groups were looking at nations around the world, trying to calculate which ones would be successful at the end of the 20th century. And many commentators and analysts thought that the chances for the Republic of Korea were limited. But that wasn’t the opinion of the people of Korea. And so for 50 years, you have built a nation that is now assuming a place of leadership in the world, respected for the vibrant democracy, for the advances across the board in every walk of life. And it is a tribute to your understanding of what it takes to make progress at a time of peril and uncertainty.
The relationship between the United States and Korea is deep and enduring, and it is indispensible to our shared security. Without security, children can’t even imagine their futures and may not have the potential to actually live up to their talents. Our two countries have joined together as a force for peace, prosperity, and progress. Korean and American soldiers have served shoulder-to-shoulder in so many places around the world.
We know that the most acute challenge to stability and security in Northeast Asia is the regime in North Korea, and particularly its nuclear program. It bears repeating that President Obama and I are committed to working through the Six-Party Talks. We believe we have an opportunity to move those forward and that it is incumbent upon North Korea to avoid provocative actions and unhelpful rhetoric toward the people and the leaders of the Republic of Korea. Remember that the North Korean Government committed to abandoning all nuclear weapons and returning at an early date to the Treaty of Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
And I make the offer again right here in Seoul: If North Korea is genuinely prepared to completely and verifiably eliminate their nuclear weapons program, the Obama Administration will be willing to normalize bilateral relations, replace the peninsula’s longstanding armistice agreement with a permanent peace treaty, and assist in meeting the energy and other economic and humanitarian needs of the Korean people.
Also essential to our shared security and prosperity is a resolution to the global economic crisis. Korea and the United States have both benefited from a strong economic relationship, and your leaders and I today discussed ways we can develop that relationship further. We are going to work on a vision of a much more comprehensive strategic relationship. We want more partnerships to bring not just government leaders together, but business and professional and academic and political and people-to-people. We want to work with Korea so that both of us will be leaders in getting at the root causes of global climate change and vigorously pursuing a clean energy agenda. And I applaud your country for being a global leader in this area, and for calling on the ingenuity and skills of the Korean people to promote green technologies that will create jobs and protect our planet and enhance our security.
Students here at Ewha have a long and proud tradition of engagement with the world. And you have the talent and the training to help shape that world. It may not be always obvious what you can do to make a difference, so do what you love. Do what gives you meaning. Do what makes life purposeful for you. And make a contribution.
I don’t know that Mary Scranton, who founded this university teaching one student in her home, could have ever dreamed of where we would be today. But that’s often the way life is. I never could have dreamed that I could be here as the Secretary of State of the United States either. (Applause.) You have to be willing to prepare yourselves and as you are doing to take advantage of the opportunities that arise, to find cooperative ways to work with others to promote the common good, and then follow your dreams. You may not end up exactly where you started out heading toward, but with your education and with the opportunities now available in your country, there is so much that you can do. And I know that you will be well-equipped to make your contribution that will contribute to the peace and prosperity and progress and security, not only of Korea, but of the region and the world that needs and is waiting for your talents.
Thank you all and God bless you. (Applause.)
And now we’re going to have some questions, I think, right? (Laughter.)
MODERATOR: (In Korean.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, so many hands. (Laughter.) Yes, right there. Here comes a microphone.
QUESTION: Good afternoon, Madame Secretary. Welcome to Korea and welcome to Ewha Women’s University. It’s an honor to have you here with us today. I’ve read your biography before and you mentioned that you were once interested in for working for NASA. If you had not gone to law school and if you had not pursued your current career as Secretary of State, where and as who would you picture yourself now? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that’s a – (laughter) – that’s a hard question. Now, there is an astronaut here. Where is she? Where’s my astronaut that I met? There she is. There she is right there. (Applause.) I told her when I met her – (cheers and applause) – my dream was to be an astronaut when I was about 13 or 14 years old and the United States was starting its space program. So I wrote a letter to the NASA space agency and asked how I could become an astronaut. (Laughter.) And I got a letter back saying that they weren’t accepting women. (Chorus of boos, laughter, applause.)
Now, I have to be very honest with you. I could never have qualified. (Laughter.) But it was a dream, and I have been thrilled to see young women follow that dream and do so with such skill.
Now, it’s hard to think about what I would have done, because I have taken a path that has been very satisfying to me. But there are so many paths that can be. When I was younger, I went from wanting to be an astronaut to wanting to be a journalist to wanting to be a doctor. I had so many different ideas in mind.
But I did become a lawyer, and I initially used my legal education on behalf of children. I worked for something called the Children’s Defense Fund. And I was particularly concerned about children who were abused or neglected or deprived in some way, and that was very important work to me. I also taught law and I practiced law. If you had asked me 20 years ago, would I ever run for office, I would have said no. I was very proud of my husband’s work, but I never thought that I would do that. I was satisfied being a lawyer and working as an advocate, particularly for children.
But when I was asked to consider running for office, I thought hard about it, and I will tell you the story about why I decided to do it. I had been a lawyer, I had been a law professor, I had been an advocate, I had been a First Lady of the United States because of my husband’s presidency – (laughter) – and that was a wonderful experience serving my country. So in 1998, at the end of that year, the Senator from New York, Senator Moynihan, decided to retire. And people in New York started asking me if I would run for the Senate. And I said no, no, of course not, I won’t do that that makes no sense to me. And they kept asking and they kept asking, and I kept saying no. And they were very persistent. (Laughter.) And I have to tell you a little secret. Some of it was because they couldn’t find anybody else to do it. (Laughter.)
And I was at an event in New York City as First Lady promoting women in sports, because I’m not a very good athlete, but I’ve always loved sports and I’ve played volleyball and softball and tennis. And so I’ve always thought that having young women involved in sports was very good. And there was a banner behind me which said “Dare to Compete.” That was the name of the special on women in sports. So this young woman, the basketball captain of this high school, introduced me. And she was much taller than me. (Laughter.) So she finished introducing me, and I went up to shake her hand and thank her, and she leaned over and she said, “Dare to compete, Mrs. Clinton. Dare to compete.” (Laughter.)
And I pass that on to you because sometimes you have to be willing to take a risk. And running for office, which I had never done before, and I’m – looking back on it now, not even sure how I did it, because it was quite challenging, was something that I am very happy I ended up doing, even though it was hard. And then when I ran for president, that was really hard. (Laughter.) But I learned so much and I had such an extraordinary experience. So it’s difficult for me to sort of run back through my mind and think of any other path, because this is the life that I’ve both lived and chosen.
Now, when President Obama asked me to be Secretary of State, I was really surprised. And I had to think very hard about that because I loved being a Senator from New York. But I concluded that working with President Obama on behalf of my country at this time was important. And so I said yes. And look where I get to come; I get to come to Ewha and see all of you. (Cheers and Applause.)
Out here somewhere. I see there’s a hand. There’s a hand right there that I think the microphone can get to. Yes, okay.
QUESTION: I’m currently studying English language and literature. (Inaudible), and I saw that you are one of the most influential leader in the world, and I think you also have some obstacles in coming to where you are today. So my question is that how have you realized these experiences to become (inaudible), especially now as Secretary of State? Thank you very much. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Well, I have been fortunate because I’ve had a very strong family and a very strong faith and very good friends. And so no matter what happens in your life, whatever obstacles you may encounter, you’re very fortunate if you have people who will support you and if you have a faith that will sustain you. And that has been my personal experience.
I think that every life faces challenges. No one escapes without difficulties. The real question is: How do you respond? And we all know people who are just amazing the way they can overcome obstacles, and we know other people who just seem to give up. And I don’t know all the reasons why that happens in a life, but I do know that being a good friend to someone in need and supporting people who are going through a hard time is very important.
One of the phrases that I keep in mind is “the discipline of gratitude.” No matter how difficult a day can be or a problem may be, find something to be grateful for every day. Today on my way to the meetings with the foreign minister and the president and the prime minister, I saw flowers everywhere. (Laughter and Applause.) And it was so wonderful to see. And walking in the foreign ministry building, I saw, pots of flowers being nurtured – (laughter) – so that they will spring forth and see blossoms already there. And so although it’s cold outside – (laughter) – I was very grateful that people have thought enough about the symbols of hope and spring that flowers bring, and that there they were for us to enjoy.
So I think that it is just a question of what you decide inside yourself and how you determine you’ll meet whatever obstacle life throws your way. And I wish all of you friends and family and faith and all the other sources of strength that can make a difference for you, and to be grateful for something every single day no matter how hard it looks. (Applause.)
Yes. Here comes the microphone.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, you look stunning today. I’m a junior in English literature. My question is, in Korea, (inaudible) is also in progress, but the word (inaudible). So do you think this is the right time to bring Korean innovation, and what’s the outlook for the success?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Great question. (Laughter.) And we talked a lot about that in our meetings today. Your president has talked about low-carbon green growth. We talk about it – a Green New Deal. We talk about clean technology and energy efficiency. I think we have to do it now, and I also believe that despite the difficult economy, there are opportunities for new jobs that will help to grow the economy into recovery.
Now, this is going to be one of the most important issues for the Obama Administration, and we are looking to partner with your country and others, because the problem of global climate change and the increasing effects of this on our environment and on our health is costing us money. We’ve done some studies in the United States that breathing the emissions that come from coal-fired power plants and from exhaust from tailpipes of vehicles makes people sick. It creates asthmatic conditions and other health problems. We know that we will have increasing droughts and other problems in the world because of what’s happening.
So you know all of this. You’re studying it. You see it. The real question is: Do the people of the world, and particularly the leaders of the world, have the will to help lead us in a new direction?
Now, what we have tried to do with our stimulus package to try to get our economy growing again is to put money into that package that will incentivize different energy choices. So there will be money for retrofitting buildings so they’ll be more energy efficient, money to enhance the development of cleaner energy appliances and vehicles. We’re trying to change behaviors while we change the economy.
Now, for some countries, that will be harder than for other countries, which is why the United States must lead. And I’m very proud that President Obama has made a total u-turn away from the policies of the past eight years. We cannot deny or ignore the global climate change problem. The question is: How do we effectively address it so that we don’t cause more economic dislocation?
And I think if we’re smart enough and we work together and we don’t get discouraged, we will see progress this year leading up to the Copenhagen conference at the end of the year. On this trip, for example, I brought with me the Special Envoy for Climate Change that President Obama and I appointed, Todd Stern, so that he could meet with the people in your government and the Japanese and the Indonesian and the Chinese government who are working on climate change.
So yes, we have some serious problems in the economy as it is trying to recover from this global contraction, but we can’t postpone dealing with global climate change. So let’s be smart; let’s be ingenious and innovative. When you think about what this country has accomplished in the last 50 years, think of what you could do leading the world in global climate change and clean technology and science in the next 50 years.
And we’re going to do our part in the United States. We’re going to try to get our own domestic policy right, pass it, begin to deal with a cap-and-trade and other approaches to controlling emissions in our own country. I’m going to have a series of talks with the Chinese Government, because last year China surpassed the United States as the largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions.
So all of us have to be part of the solution. We can’t leave anybody out. And I think we have to do it now. I don’t think we can wait, and we’re going to try to make real progress. (Applause.)
Let’s see. Is there an aisle – I can’t see. Is there an aisle back there? I don’t know how we can get to you. Oh, here comes somebody. Okay. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Hi, Mrs. Clinton. Thank you for being with us today. I’m actually a junior at the high school, the Seoul foreign high school, which is right down yonder. (Laughter.) And --
SECRETARY CLINTON: Down yonder? Is that in Korean terms? (Laughter.)
QUESTION: You spoke a lot about being a woman and how women are a necessity to the world right now. How has – especially being a mother. How has it been dealing with other world leaders who aren’t as accepting of the role of women for example, in different countries who don’t really respect women? How has that been trying to get them to cooperate with you as a female yourself?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don’t feel like I’ve had any problems either as a senator or in my short tenure as Secretary of State, because I hold an official position and I represent the – in the first case, the United States Senate, or in this case, as the representative of the United States. So there is a funny kind of difference that sometimes goes on in some countries that are not particularly supportive of women in official positions. I think they just kind of ignore the fact that they’re dealing with someone who’s a woman. That seems to be almost a change that goes on in their mind.
So I don’t have any problems with that, but I do believe that it’s important for someone in my position to raise the role of women on an ongoing basis, even in countries where women are not given full and equal rights. So I don’t think it’s enough that people deal with me; I want them to deal with their own women, I want them to think about giving all women the rights to be fully functioning, productive citizens. So that is part of the mission that I feel I carry as the Secretary of State of the United States, and that’s what I intend to promote as I travel around the world talking about a lot of these important matters that are really at the core of the kind of future we’re going to have for ourselves and our children. (Applause.)
QUESTION: (Inaudible) meet you, Madame Secretary. I’m a student of Scranton honors program majoring in (inaudible). I have a very simple question. (Inaudible) student university, I am very curious about your college life at the Wellesley. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I loved Wellesley. I loved going to a women’s college, and I made so many wonderful friends that are still my friends today. I went to Wellesley a long time ago – (laughter) – and at that time, there were a lot of universities in my country where women could not attend as full students, so you couldn't attend a lot of the Ivy League universities. They didn’t admit women. They had – some of them had separate colleges, like Harvard had Radcliffe, for example.
And so when I was thinking about going to college, going to those universities was not an option. I could not have gone there. But even with that, I’m very glad that I went to a women’s college. I feel like it helped to shape and support me. It gave me opportunities for leadership, and the faculty was very involved in our studies and provided advice about what we were thinking of doing. So it’s just a wonderful experience. And for those of you who have been to Wellesley, it’s a beautiful campus, and so you felt like you were really out of the world for four years. You didn’t have to cope with a lot of the problems that were waiting.
But what was interesting is that for many, many years in the United States, graduates of women’s colleges went to professional schools and into business and into academia at a much higher percentage than women graduates of co-ed universities. Now, I don’t think that is quite the same in our country as it used to be, but that was very significant to me because so many of the women I know today who are leaders in many fields in the United States had a women’s college background. So I’m a very strong believer. And as an alumni of Wellesley, I had the opportunity to speak and discuss whether Wellesley should go co-ed, and I’ve always said no. I think we need women’s colleges like Ewha and Wellesley to provide an alternative for young women and to provide that supportive environment that I certainly found when I went to Wellesley and that I think many of you find here to help prepare you for the future. So I’m very, very proud of Wellesley. (Applause.)
Do you have a microphone? Here, I’ll take one over there. Okay. Oh, too many hands. Too many hands. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Thank you for your speech, Madame Clinton. Welcome to the Ewha Womans University. Considering the social atmosphere and social pressures, it’s not easy for women to work and take care of their family at the same time. Now, I thought you were quite successful in managing those two different bills. But what do you think should be women’s primary responsibility – her career or her family, or is there any alternative ways to incorporate them together? Thank you. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think it’s important for each young woman to be true to herself. I have many friends who have made different choices. I have friends who were full-time devoted wives and mothers. I have friends who were full-time professional women and either never married or, if they married, did not have children. But most of my friends, including myself, have balanced marriage, motherhood, and work. And that is the more common pattern in the United States now.
And for some women it is a difficult choice and there is no formula, because it depends so much on your husband – (laughter) – so think hard – (laughter) – about whether you have the same views on these important issues, whether you have an understanding about how to manage your time. Because some young women make a decision to postpone childbearing, some have their children early and then go back to work. I mean, there’s many different ways of making this happen, but it is hard if you don’t have a supportive family. And I think that is one of the keys to helping you make the decision.
But I also believe that society still makes it very hard for women to balance family and work. It’s true in my country, where we don’t have the kind of support for childcare – quality childcare, where we often don’t have flexible work hours, where so many women who work full-time feel like they are not fulfilling either their responsibilities as a mother or their responsibilities as a worker. They’re so torn by it. And it would be – it would make it so much easier if there were more support generally from society and it wasn’t just each person basically on her own.
So I think we have to look for ways to create that support. If it’s not created society-wide, then create it within a network of friends. Looking for ways to support each other is so critical as you start out trying to make this balance.
But I think the other piece of it is that, at the end of the day, you have to live with yourself and nobody else can tell you how you’re going to feel. I know so many – because I just know so many people over the course of my lifetime who have made different choices. And the choice your friend makes may not be the best choice for you. The choice your mother made may not be the best choice for you. So try and be really honest with yourself and how you will feel.
I had to – when I had my daughter and I was working as a lawyer, nobody in this law firm where I worked, because I was the first woman to be there, they – nobody had ever coped with someone who was pregnant and about to have a baby. (Laughter.) Nobody – none of my male partners and other lawyers even wanted to talk about it. (Laughter.) They acted like if they didn’t look at me -- (laughter) – it wouldn't necessarily be happening.
So when I had Chelsea, in those days, we didn’t have anything like maternal leave. Nobody was quite sure what to expect. And the day after I had her, one of the lawyers that I worked with called me up at the hospital and he said, “Well, when are you coming back to work?” (Laughter.) And I said, “Well, I don’t know. I think I’ll take maternal leave.” And he goes, “Well, what’s that?” (Laughter.) And I said, “Well, that means I’m going to stay home for a couple months and take care of my baby.” “Oh,” he said. “Oh, oh, okay.” (Laughter.)
But that shouldn’t be – we should have a policy. There should be an understanding about how to support – the most important work that is done in any society is raising the next generation. There isn’t any more important work. We shouldn’t make it so hard for bright, talented, educated young women to be able to do their work and raise their family. And I hope that those of you who wish to make that choice and balance that have the support you need, both from your immediate family and from the larger society, so that you can do it and do it well. (Applause.)
Well, let me see. Back there. I try to pick the aisles because it’s easier to get to, I guess. Here we go.
QUESTION: Good afternoon, Madame Secretary. Welcome to Ewha and Korea. First of all, thanks for the speech and what you said about doing what you love. So I have a question related to love. (Laughter.) (Inaudible) was one of the major reasons (inaudible) husband (inaudible), then presidential (inaudible). How did you know your husband was (inaudible)? (Laughter and Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah, I feel more like an advice columnist than Secretary of State today. (Laughter.) How does anybody describe love? I mean, poets have spent millennia writing about love. Psychologists and authors of all sorts write about it. I think if you can describe it, you may not fully be experiencing it because it is such a personal relationship. I’m very lucky because my husband is my best friend and he and I have been together for a very long time, longer than most of you have been alive. (Laughter.)
We are – we have an endless conversation. We never get bored. We get deeply involved in all of the work that we do and we talk about it constantly. And I just feel very fortunate that I have a relationship that has been so meaningful to me over my adult life.
And I just wish all of you to have a positive experience, whatever you choose to pursue in life, because it makes life more interesting. It is something that gives real texture and color, and it’s a learning experience. Let me put it that way. You learn a lot about yourself in a relationship as well as the other person. So it’s no longer Valentine’s Day. That was last week. (Laughter.) But I think that personal relationships are really what is most important in life.
I had a friend, a wonderful woman scientist who was a pioneering woman physician and research endocrinologist. She worked for many years at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. And she once said something that I’ve always treasured. She said, in talking about her life, near the end of her life, she said, “I’ve loved and been loved, and all the rest is background music.” And so I think about that a lot. So I wish you a lot of music as a foreground. (Applause.)
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, last question.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, the last question. What a burden. (Laughter.) Okay, yes, can you give the microphone to this young woman in pink? Thank you.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, thank you so much for giving me the last question. The question (inaudible) about your daughter, Chelsea Clinton. Actually, I saw your daughter when I was studying in United States, and I thought she was so smart and great and was so sure about you and your campaign at the time (inaudible) she is so like you. (Laughter.) So I’m pretty sure that you (inaudible) her a lot. So can you just tell a little bit about how special Chelsea is to you?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you. Well, we could be here for hours. (Laughter and Applause.) One of the most wonderful things about being a mother is watching your child grow into an adult whom you like and admire. And that’s the way I feel about my daughter. It’s not only that I love her because I’m her mother and I’m very invested in her. I just really like her. I like being with her. I like talking to her. I enjoy hearing about what she’s doing in her life.
And I was very touched when she decided to campaign so vigorously for my election because she’s always been very supportive but very private and not wanting to get out and make public speeches and all of that. But she traveled with me during the campaign and she, I think, had two experiences. One, she realized how much ground there was to cover and how many people there were out there to see and talk to. And I think she also was surprised by what she saw as sort of remnants of gender bias in some of the encounters that we had in the campaign.
She was with me one day in New Hampshire when some young men jumped and unfurled a sign that said, “Iron my shirts” and were yelling at me. She just had never experienced that. She thought that was ancient history, where you read about that in a textbook somewhere. (Laughter.) And she was so surprised, because she’d gone to Stanford, she had gone to Oxford, and she had a very great educational experience and then a really challenging work experience.
So she wanted to help. And she said, look, I’ll go (inaudible) and that’s probably where you saw her out campaigning for me at one of the more than 400 places that she campaigned for me around the country. And I was just so touched that she was willing to do that, because it’s a sacrifice to be the child or the relative of someone in public life, because it’s hard. And you have to avoid taking everything that happens personally. And it’s a difficult experience.
So I just watched her just get better and better and better at what she did and how she communicated. And I’m just very fortunate because we are lucky enough to have a very supportive relationship. She and her dad and I spend a lot of time together, along with her friends. She’s got a great group of friends.
And so for me, it’s the most wonderful part of being a mother because you can see the result of this tiny baby that you were introduced to all those years ago turn into an extraordinary young woman. Because again, nobody gives you a instruction book about being a mother. And I remember one night when Chelsea was like a week or two old and she was just crying and crying and it was the worst feeling when you’re a new mother and you can’t get your baby to stop crying and you don’t know what’s causing it. And you think that it must be something like an emergency, that you should run to the hospital and get help, and all it is is she’s a baby. And so I was rocking her in the middle of the night and I said to her, I said, look, you’ve never been a baby before, and I’ve never been a mother before. (Laughter.) We just have to figure this out together, and that’s what we’re still doing. Every new experience we’re just figuring it out together.
And I just wish for all of you the most joyous and challenging and exciting opportunities ahead. It is a wonderful time to be a young woman in the first part of the 21st century. I know I’m having experiences and opportunities that my mother, who was born before women could vote in the United States, could never have dreamed of, and certainly neither of my grandmothers. And you are living lives that for many of you, your mothers and grandmothers could never have envisioned. So it is an extraordinary opportunity. It is also a responsibility. And I wish for each of you a life filled with purpose and meaning and joy. And thank you for letting me come talk to you today. (Cheers and Applause.)
# # #