This weeks Illustrated Woman in History was written by Megan Bentall @mirfain
Hillary Clinton is an American politician. She was the First Lady of America from 1993 to 2001, a United States Senator for New York from 2001 to 2009, and the 67th Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013. She was the Democratic Party’s nominee for President of the United States in the 2016 election.
Hillary was born in Chicago in 1947, and has two younger brothers. She was raised in a conservative household, and was originally a republican, but whilst attending Wellesley College she was upset by the racism in the 1968 Republican Convention and left the party for good.
In 1969 she was nominated by fellow students to deliver a speech at the graduation ceremony - the first student in Wellesley College history to speak at the event - and her speech was featured in Life magazine. She used it to criticise Senator Brooke who also spoke at the event.
In 1970 Hillary attended Yale Law School. Whilst applying for law schools she has spoken about the sexism she faced from male students during the application process:
“I was taking a law school admissions test in a big classroom at Harvard. My friend and I were some of the only women in the room. I was feeling nervous. I was a senior in college. I wasn’t sure how well I’d do. And while we’re waiting for the exam to start, a group of men began to yell things like: ‘You don’t need to be here.’ And ‘There’s plenty else you can do.’ It turned into a real ‘pile on.’ One of them even said: ‘If you take my spot, I’ll get drafted, and I’ll go to Vietnam, and I’ll die.’ And they weren’t kidding around.
It was intense. It got very personal. But I couldn’t respond. I couldn’t afford to get distracted because I didn’t want to mess up the test. So I just kept looking down, hoping that the proctor would walk in the room. I know that I can be perceived as aloof or cold or unemotional. But I had to learn as a young woman to control my emotions. And that’s a hard path to walk. Because you need to protect yourself, you need to keep steady, but at the same time you don’t want to seem ‘walled off.’ And sometimes I think I come across more in the ‘walled off’ arena. And if I create that perception, then I take responsibility. I don’t view myself as cold or unemotional. And neither do my friends. And neither does my family. But if that sometimes is the perception I create, then I can’t blame people for thinking that.”
Whilst completing her post-graduate studies, Hillary interned for civil rights activist and child advocate Marian Wright Edelman. She was sent to Alabama to prove that schools were still segregated. She posed as a mother who wanted to send her child to schools only if they were segregated and exposed academies that refused entry to black students.
In 1973, while still working for Marian Wright Edelman she went door to door interviewing families with disabled children to see why they weren’t in school. Her report found that children with special needs or physical or mental disabilities were being excluded from school - sometimes by parents, sometimes by the schools themselves. This report was later used to inform the 1975 Education for All Handicapped Children Act which required all states to educate children with disabilities.
After graduating Hillary failed the D.C bar exam, but passed the bar in Arkansas, leading her to choose to move there and marry Bill Clinton, who she started seeing in 1971 whilst at Yale. She became one of only two female faculty members in the School of Law at the University of Arkansas. She became the first director of a new legal aid clinic at the school, and during her time there she, along with several other women, founded the city’s first rape crisis centre. In 1977, she co-founded Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families. She was appointed the first female chair of the Legal Services Corporation in 1978 and became the first woman partner at Rose Law Firm the following year. As First Lady of Arkansas, she led a task force whose recommendations helped reform Arkansas’s public schools, and served on several corporate boards.
When Bill Clinton became President in 1993, Hillary was the first First Lady to have earned a postgraduate degree, have had a professional career up her time entering the White House, and was the first First Lady to have an office in the West Wing. She played a central role in her husband’s presidency - much to the outcry of Republicans - and played a huge role in attempting to reform health care, among other issues. Whilst her initial health care proposals failed, she was a huge force behind the passage of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program in 1997, a program that provides healthcare for millions of children across the US.
In 2000, Hillary was elected as the first female senator for New York State, making her the only first lady to have ever gone on to hold office. As Senator Hillary sponsored or co-sponsored over 2,600 pieces of legislation and served on multiple committees.
After a failed presidential run in 2008, Hillary agreed to be Secretary of State in President Obama’s government. She was the most travelled Secretary of State in history, visiting 112 countries in four years, travelling 956,733 miles, and spending 401 days total on the road. As Secretary of State some of her achievements during this time include negotiating a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in 2012, putting global women’s issues and advancing women’s rights as a central part of State policy, and changing passport law to allow transgendered Americans to easily change the gender on their passports.
On April 12th 2015 Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy for presidential nomination of the Democratic Party. After a long primary season she won the amount of delegates needed to secure the nomination in June 2016, and officially accepted the nomination on July 28th, 2016. She became the first women to ever run as a presidential nominee for a major party in U.S history.
In the election on November 9th 2016, Hillary Clinton won more popular votes than the Republican nominee, but lost in the Electoral College, and as such will not be the first female president of America. However she came further than any woman in the history of the United States, and is set to receive more votes for president than candidate outside of Barack Obama.
Hillary has won a Grammy, a Lifetime Achievement Award, the Mother Theresa Award, the American Medical Women’s Association’s President’s Vision & Voice Award for being an advocate for women’s health and related issues, has been inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, has been ranked by Newsweek as being the 13th most powerful person on the planet and the most powerful American woman, has been named the most admired women in the world by Gallup 20 times - longer than any other person in Gallup’s history of running this poll, has featured in Forbes magazine’s most powerful people ranking ten times, and been named ten times in Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world. Since entering the world stage as First Lady back in 1993, Hillary Clinton has been one of the most admired and respected women across the globe.