Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks on stage at the Pennsylvania Conference For Women 2013 at Philadelphia Convention Center on November 1, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Lisa Lake/Getty Images for Pennsylvania Conference for Women

Hillary on glass ceiling: “Let’s get cracking!”


Is Hillary Clinton still thinking about breaking the highest glass ceiling in American politics?

At Friday’s Pennsylvania Conference for Women, Clinton announced the launch of The Clinton Foundation’s  ”no ceilings” initiative to promote gender equality worldwide. 

While Clinton made no mention of running for president, she made an impassioned call for women’s rights, urging the 7,000-member audience to stand against discrimination and to promote women in leadership ranks. 

“Ceilings in America are unacceptable,” Clinton said, “and we’re going to be about the business of making sure those ceilings crack. So let’s get cracking!”

Gender equality has been a major focus of Clinton’s career, stemming from her time as First Lady and continuing today through her work at the newly-renamed Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.

“These ceilings don’t just hold back women and girls,” Clinton said, citing instances of sexual violence, a lack of job opportunities and unequal access to education. “They hold back entire… societies, because no country can thrive by denying the contributions of half their people.” 

The refrain has been a cornerstone of Clinton’s public speeches, which–along with fundraisers–have taken her to eight cities in the past 10 days. Clinton has frequently called the fight against oppression of women and girls worldwide “the great unfinished business of the 21st century.” 

Next September marks the 20-year anniversary of Clinton’s landmark speech at a U.N. women’s conference in Beijing, in which she declared that “women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights, once and for all.” On Friday she reflected on that speech. 

“It’s time for all of us to take a clear-eyed look at how far we’ve come” since that 1995 speech in Beijing, Clinton said, as well as “what we need to do now.” 

“Women and girls still comprise the majority of the world’s unhealthy, unfed, unschooled, and unpaid,” Clinton said. She noted that “at least 100 countries have laws on the books that limit the participation of women in the economy” by not allowing women to open bank accounts, sign contracts, or apply for certain jobs. “Even in advanced economies like our own, women earn 16% less than men for doing the same job,” she said. 

“Too many women here and around the world still face ceilings that hold back their ambitions and aspirations, that make it harder for them to pursue their own God-given potential.” 

While her ambitions and aspirations remain a secret for the time being, some members of the audience expressed their own hopes, running across the auditorium with a sign reading, “Run Hillary Run! 2016.” 

Watch Hillary Clinton’s speech here:

MSNBC Live, 11/1/13, 4:01 PM ET

Hillary Clinton at Pennsylvania Conference for Women

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at the Pennsylvania Conference for Women.

Hillary Clinton

Hillary on glass ceiling: "Let's get cracking!"