Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton has paid tribute to the women who have inspired her throughout her career at a special event hosted by Swansea University.
As guest of honour she joined a high-profile panel for a discussion entitled Gutsy Welsh Women in front of a capacity audience at the University’s Bay Campus.
The former US Secretary of State, who has just released The Book of Gutsy Women: Favourite Stories of Courage and Resilience with her daughter Chelsea, said: “We dedicated the book to anyone who is searching for inspiration to live their own gutsy life. In these tumultuous times we need courage and resilience more than ever.”
She was joined on the panel by the head of the University’s Hillary Rodham Clinton School of Law, Professor Elwen Evans, Welsh Education Minister Kirsty Williams and academic Professor Laura McAllister who holds an honorary degree from the university.
Chaired by Sky News journalist Anna Jones, the 600-strong audience at the Great Hall heard a short address by Mrs Clinton followed by members of the panel discussing the women who influenced their own careers.
She was welcomed on stage by Swansea University’s Vice-Chancellor Paul Boyle and Students’ Union President Grace Hannaford who praised her pioneering work in the fields of human and children’s rights.
“As we approach our centenary, we know the world around us is changing and Swansea University wants to be at the forefront of meeting these challenges. We take gender equality issues extremely seriously, and are proud of our achievements to date. Of course, there is always more to do, and we cannot fail to have been inspired by the work of Mrs Clinton and her daughter,” said Professor Boyle.
The discussion echoed the theme of the Clintons’ new book which profiles more than 100 women from throughout history who have stood up against the status quo including teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg and suffragette Rosa May
The Swansea event gave the panel an opportunity to share how they reached the top of their respective professions and the challenges they have had to overcome along the way.
They also took questions from the audience which included leading businesswomen and entrepreneurs, honorary fellows, university staff and students.
After Mrs Clinton revealed she remained optimistic about the future, Professor Elwen Evans issued an impassioned plea in defence of liberal democracy.
“I do think that we are going through a very difficult time. Looking from outside don’t we need the fabulous gutsy women that we read about in the book, that we know about in our lives, that we have here today?
“We call our MPs honourable members - I’m not quite sure what honourable means but it’s a whole range of really important characteristics, truthfulness, kindness empathy - and I worry that our whole dialogue is losing that sense and substance and style. . .so in our little part of the world we must do what we can to ensure that optimism lands on the other side of this very troubling time.”
Mrs Clinton, who has a family connection to Wales, first visited Swansea University in 2017 when she received an honorary doctorate and shared her passion for the work of its Observatory on Human Rights of Children.
This latest two-day visit also saw her meet the first recipients of the Hillary Rodham Clinton Global Challenges Scholarship programme, supported by Sky, where they had an opportunity to discuss their current research and hear about her experiences
during her political career.