By Arun Kumar
Washington: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has praised Indian social activist Ela Bhatt as one of her “heroines” for her work for empowerment of women.
“I have a lot of heroes and heroines around the world,” she said speaking at the National Partnership for Women and Families here Thursday. One of them was Ela Bhatt, Clinton said, recalling her role in starting the Self-Employed Women’s Association in India.
“She was a very well-educated woman who had the options available to those in her class with her intellectual ability,” she said.
“But she chose to devote her life to organizing the poorest of the poor, women who worked in fields, who sold vegetables, who were domestics, who struggled to eke out a living for themselves and their families, women who were considered the last to eat, the least important.”
Over the years SEWA has grown to million members “and they were being looked at by those around the world who saw what they had accomplished,” Clinton said recalling her visit to a couple of housing projects in Cape Town patterned on the SEWA model.
“This didn’t happen overnight, but it could not have happened without determined, dedicated, persistent, meddling, bothersome, annoying women leaders,” she said.
“So we need to keep pushing on those closed doors, keep chiselling away at those barriers, keep working together toward a world where every little girl and boy grows up believing that there is a future for them, that if they work hard, if they do their part, they too can make a difference in their own lives and the lives of their larger communities,” Clinton said.