Hillary Clinton Honors Peacebuilders, Advocates at Georgetown Event
Former-First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presented the Hillary Rodham Clinton Awards for Advancing Women in Peace and Security at Georgetown University’s Gaston Hall on September 27. Clinton honored United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, Rosa Anaya, and Virginia “Marta” Velásquez for their contributions to the promotion of peace and human rights.
The event was hosted by the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security (GIWPS) and moderated by former-Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer, the GIWPS executive director. Every year, GIWPS presents the Hillary Rodham Clinton Awards to recognize the role of women in creating a more peaceful and secure world. Former-President of Ireland Mary Robinson—herself a former-UN high commissioner for human rights—as well as ambassadors to the United States from Germany, the European Union, Mexico, Chile, Honduras, Afghanistan, New Zealand, and Iceland were all in attendance.
Clinton did not shy away from pointing out current injustices faced by women all over the world. She acknowledged the work of State Department Foreign Service officers, saying that they “deserve the support of all Americans.” Clinton also said that “[President Donald Trump] has turned American diplomacy into a cheap extortion racket. He has denigrated, and let’s be honest, stabbed in the back the career Foreign Service officers who serve bravely and selflessly no matter the politics.”
Clinton began her address with a warning. She alerted the crowd to “an all-out assault on our core values of democracy, free speech, and the rule of law.” The former-secretary of state had calculated a response to combat these challenges: women. She referred to women as “beacons of hope,” remarking, “never underestimate the power of women and girls not only to improve their own lives, but to lift up families, communities, and entire nations.” The three women she honored embodied this ethos, Clinton said.
Bachelet was Latin America’s first female defense minister, the first female president of Chile, and the inaugural director of UN Women. She was recognized for her commitment to public service, her dedicated leadership, and her advocacy for marginalized people. Bachelet has worked with numerous NGOs and international organizations like the Social Protection Floor Advisory Group, an initiative that aims to promote social policies that will stimulate economic growth and social cohesion. In her address to those at Gaston Hall, Bachelet said that “it is time, it is well past time, for the universalization of the equality of every human being.”
Anaya is an El Salvadoran peace advocate and the coordinator of Second Chances, a Catholic Relief Services program that rehabilitates prisoners. Her work began from the inspiration she felt throughout the journey toward forgiving her father’s murderer. For over 20 years, Anaya has championed restorative justice in El Salvador’s prisons, supporting prisoners and preparing them for the return to their communities. Anaya believes that the way forward for El Salvador cannot involve vengeance. Verveer congratulated Anaya on her work, thanking her “for acting on the belief that every human being matters, that human rights matter, and that a peaceful and just future for El Salvador is truly possible.”
Velásquez is a Honduran peace advocate and the founder of Movimiento de Mujeres de la Colonia López Arellano (MOMUCLAA). She has inspired women to stand up to “machismo” while still making it clear that the feminist movement is strengthened by the participation of all people, Clinton said. Velásquez recalls witnessing “a more community-based, more collective feminism.” GIWPS honored Velásquez for efforts despite personal risk and for instilling courage in the victimized women of Choloma. MOMUCLAA organizes women to advocate for peace. The organization has led the charge in local government reforms, pushing the Honduran congress to address domestic violence and lobbying to fund educational projects.