Hillary Clinton laments 'double standards' for women in politics



Washington: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today said she was encouraged by street protests in India by young citizens demanding better treatment for women, as she rued the loss of life of the Delhi gangrape victim who she said could have contributed to India's future.

Clinton, who made a historic bid in 2008 to become the first US woman President, also said that women across the world still encounter "double standards" in politics.

The outgoing Secretary of State said in the years to come she looked forward for big changes in India where despite the fact that women have broken several glass ceilings there is still "tremendous amount of discrimination".

"I personally was very encouraged, and even proud, to see the young (in the) streets protesting the way that young women are treated by men who do not understand or have never been taught to accept that it's not just their sisters and their mothers that they should respect, but all girls and women. So I'm looking for big changes in India in the years to come," Clinton said in response to a question from an Indian.

Replying to a question on women in politics, Clinton acknowledged that there were still double standards.

"Although it is better than it was, having been in and around politics for many years now, there is still a double standard. And it is a double standard that exists from the trivial, like what you wear, to the incredibly serious, like women can't vote, women can't run for office, women are not supposed to be in the public sphere," she said.

"But there is a spectrum of the double standard and of the both legal and cultural barriers to respect for women, for the full participation of women," she said.

"So we do have ways to go, and even in democracies, and a democracy like yours (India), unlike mine, that's had a woman leader and has a woman at the head of the current governing party, where women have achieved a lot of political success, there is still a tremendous amount of discrimination and just outright abuse of women particularly uneducated women, women who can't stand up for themselves, but clearly, even, as we saw in the terrible gang rape, a woman trying to better herself, go to school.

Clinton said upliftment of women and speaking for their rights has been the cause of her life and will continue to be as she leaves the office of the Secretary of State.

"The young woman who essentially was raped and then died of her terrible injuries -- who knows what she could have contributed to India's future? When you put barriers in the way of half the population, you in effect are putting brakes on your own development as a nation. And there's more than adequate research to prove this," she said.

Pointing to the Indian journalist Barkha Dutt who was anchoring the show from India, she said: "Just in a personal, everyday life example, I'm looking at one of the leading journalists in the world, certainly one of the leading journalists in India, Barkha. She brings to her job her experiences that are then infusing the coverage that she provides".

PTI