As the front-runner for the Democratic nomination in the 2016 election, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton could possibly be the first female president the United States has ever had. But, as she often notes in speeches and interviews (and even in her Twitter bio!), she's also a proud mother and grandmother, intimately understanding what it feels like for all of the other women who also have those roles in their own lives. That's why Hillary Clinton's quotes about motherhood are so important to hear: for the first time, women aren't just hearing from men who say they "respect" women (or, if you're Mitt Romney, that you have "binders full of" them); they're actually hearing from someone who has experienced what it's like to be a mother — even if, to be fair, her experience of motherhood was decidedly more privileged than most.
Have kids quickly teaches you how all-consuming parenthood can be, and how difficult it can feel at times to find balance — to maintain your own identity while also being the best parent you can be for your children. That's why hearing Clinton speak about motherhood is so valuable, and why some of these quotes are likely to resonate with women everywhere, even those who aren't staunchly #TeamClinton.
"For All The Dorothys"
Motherhood was the focus of Clinton's first television ad for her presidential campaign. Specifically, she spoke about her own mother, Dorothy, and how having a "champion" in her life despite her difficult upbringing helped her become a loving, dedicated mother. Inspired by her mother's example, Clinton said,
I think about all the 'Dorothy's all over America, who fight for their families, who never give up. That's why I'm doing this. That's why I've always done this. For all the 'Dorothy's.
"If You Really Want To Know How Strong[ ] A Country's Health System Is, Look At The Well-being of Its Mothers."
In June 2012, Clinton spoke as Secretary of State at the Global Health Summit in Oslo, Norway, discussing maternal health. In her remarks, she spoke about the importance of high-quality maternal healthcare and healthcare for women in general, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. Speaking briefly about her own birth experience in the United States versus those of women in less developed countries, Clinton said,
I think about what it would have been like that cold February day in 1980 if I didn't know that the [birthing] facility was available. Or were it available, [if] I didn't really know for sure if it would be open. And I couldn't count on a doctor or a midwife or a nurse being present. Or if they were, if something went wrong, that they would have the equipment and the expertise to handle whatever the emergency might be. But indeed...that is the experience of many millions of women every single day throughout the world.
Clinton went on to emphasize the role maternal health plays in a country's ability to prosper, saying,
If you really want to know how strongly a country's health system is, look at the well-being of its mothers. Because when a woman in labor experiences complications, it takes a strong system to keep her alive. It not only takes skilled doctors, midwives, and nurses, it takes reliable transportation, well-equipped clinics and hospitals that are open 24 hours a day. Where these elements are in place, more often than not women will survive childbirth. When they aren't, more often than not they die or suffer life-changing, traumatic injuries.
It Is Past Time For Women To Take Their Rightful Place ... In The Rooms Where ... Their Children's ... Fates, Are Decided"
Clinton spoke about the importance of women again in 2012, as the keynote speaker at the International Crisis Group's awards ceremony. According to Elle, she told the crowd:
Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world. It is past time for women to take their rightful place, side by side with men, in the rooms where the fates of peoples, where their children's and grandchildren's fates, are decided.
(Mothers and grandmothers everywhere are surely nodding their heads in agreement!)
"Thinking About Everything You Want To Do ... To Give That Child The Best Chance In Life ... Is Profoundly Moving To Me."
It's not just motherhood that has affected Clinton's view, but also becoming a grandmother to her first grandchild, Charlotte, in 2014 (daughter Chelsea is currently pregnant with baby #2). On being a grandmother, Clinton told People:
It will affect my being, not just my thinking. I hope grandfathers feel the same way, I know my husband does. Having that next generation right there and thinking about everything you want to do both personally but in our cases, publicly and professionally, to give that child the best chance in life to be all he or she can be, that is profoundly moving to me.
She's also drawn on her experience as a grandmother in other ways, like when she spoke out on Twitter in support of vaccines:
The science is clear: The earth is round, the sky is blue, and #vaccineswork. Let's protect all our kids. #GrandmothersKnowBest
"You Cannot Have Maternal Health Without Reproductive Health"
Maternal health is a cause that is clearly important to Clinton, as it is something she has discussed (and continues to discuss) many times. In 2010, Clinton visited Canada as Secretary of State to speak at a G8 meeting of foreign ministers, ahead of a summit focusing specifically on improving maternal health around the world. Clinton pushed back at then-Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who did not want to discuss abortion as part of the maternal health discussion. According to the Center For Reproductive Rights, Clinton said:
You cannot have maternal health with reproductive health, and reproductive health includes contraception and family planning and access to legal, safe abortions.
Of course, a president does not have to be a mother in order to represent women's interests (and women's rights encompasses so much more than just motherhood, anyway, particularly since many women don't have children). But being able to hear discussions like these from someone who stands a good chance at leading the country is definitely a nice change.