First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton told Jewish groups this week that investing in the lives of women and girls is “one of the soundest investments any society can make.”
“If women are healthy, educated, literate, safe from violence and able to contribute economically and politically, then they will flourish and their families will flourish,” Clinton said.
“And if families flourish, then communities and nations do as well,” she said in an address Monday before more than 1,100 women gathered for the United Jewish Appeal’s National Women’s Campaign Lion of Judah Conference.
A day earlier the first lady addressed more than 2,000 people attending the annual dinner of the Chicago regional office of the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.
In each of her addresses the first lady extolled the virtues of the organizations, linking their work to her advocacy of women’s rights throughout the world.
Delivering a first-hand report of the recently concluded United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, Clinton underscored the continuity between the goals of the international conference and the goals of Jewish women.
“What we saw in Beijing was not just another conference and not just a lot of rhetoric,” she said. “If we follow up in all the small ways we can individually and in the larger ways that groups” can, there will be progress.
“And that progress will make our world safer, more prosperous an more democratic,” she said in Washington.
Addressing the Weizman Institute supporters, Clinton emphasized that access to education, health care, jobs and protection for women across the globe should concern all human beings. “Women’s rights are human rights, and human rights are women’s rights,” the first lady said.
Clinton said the Beijing conference showed, as the Weizmann Institute proves, that “investing in the potential of human being is just as important as investing in trade in the marketplace.”
Founded in 1934, the Weizmann Institute, based in Rehovot, Israel, is an internationally known scientific, technological and biomedical research institution. It focuses on basis research, in addition to searching for ways to combat disease, to alleviate the use of the fossils fuels as energy and to solve environmental problems.
In Washington, Clinton praised the Lion of Judah members for sharing a commitment to bringing new respect and dignity to the “work and worth” of women and girls.
“I am grateful that you have made a commitment, not only on behalf of Jews around the world, but on behalf of what it means to be a human being as we approach the new century,” she said.
Representing 111 communities and 36 states, Lion of Judah women “are the forefront of recognizing the ever-changing role of women,” said Betty Kane, chairwoman of the UJA’s National Women’s Campaign.
Women’s philanthrophy has assumed an increasingly significant role in the UJA Federation system, with Jewish women contributing about $140 million every year to the UJA’s mission to rescue the imperiled, care for the vulnerable and revitalize Jewish life.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.