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Audrey Hinchcliffe | Hillary, you are the woman!

Published:Thursday | July 7, 2016 | 7:00 AMAudrey Hinchcliffe
Chairman and CEO of Manpower & Maintenance Services Limited, M. Audrey Hinchcliffe (left), and former Secretary of State and Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton share a light moment at a recent meeting of the International Council on Women’s Business Leadership in the USA.

There is nothing new to Hillary Rodham Clinton breaking down barriers. Coming from humble beginnings like many of us, her remarkable climb up the ladder of success has been steady, despite the bumps and lumps along the way. From college student to lawyer, wife, mother, grandmother, first lady, senator, presidential candidate (2008) and secretary of state, Clinton has blazed a trail that has led her to a defining moment as the Democratic Party's presumptive nominee for 2016. This is a feat for the history books.

As someone who is personally acquainted with her in her role as secretary of state, United States Department of State, having accepted her invitation to be one of the 20 women representing all regions of the world to form the International Council on Women's Business Leadership (2011), I can attest to her leadership capability and solid grasp of global affairs. She behaves like 'one of the girls', yet her belief in ameliorating the human condition and uplifting women and girls to make the world stronger, as we work together for the good of everybody, has been a distinguishing feature of her life's work and an important part of her platform.

Her keen understanding of political issues; her passion and care for and about people of all races, creed and colour; her belief in being tolerant, inclusive and fair; her ability to unite and commitment to creating opportunities for others epitomise the character of the woman I have come to know.

Yet, the historic event of a woman grabbing headlines as presumptive nominee for the Democratic presidential race after 240 years of American independence, while laudable, is not that exciting for me. In this regard, the USA trails India (Gandhi); Israel (Golda Meir); the UK (Thatcher); Germany (Merkel); Dominica (Eugenia Charles), Jamaica (Simpson Miller) and a number of other countries that have been led by women. What makes Hillary's case for breaking barriers - notice I did not say 'glass ceiling' as that would be too self-limiting - is the fact that her political exploits seem to 'trump' all other achievements, which have nothing to do with a glass ceiling.

 

DEFIED ALL ODDS

 

Hillary's march has been history in the making for women since the famous Beijing address, where she declared that "Women's rights are human rights, and human rights are women's rights". In making this declaration, she sent a signal that she was going to shake up the status quo. We may have failed to see this as a sign that nothing - no gender, no being victim of her husband's exploits; even the rebuffing of her work on health care that she undertook as first lady - nothing was going to stand in the way of the journey to where she is today. She has fought to improve services for children, and has always introduced life-changing programmes for women and girls. She has endured being slighted and betrayed, and also survived losing the Democratic party's nomination in 2008 to Barack Obama.

Hillary has not come back; she was always there, as she has withstood all the challenges thrown at her, from her male and female counterparts alike both in and outside of politics. Many thought the lights had gone out on the Clinton era, but despite the email saga and Benghazi, among other incidents, Hillary has proven them all wrong. She has defied all odds and is now firmly on the march to the White House - this time not just as first lady, wife, mother and grandmother but as 'Madam President'.

Although I was one of those who believed that she should not have run, given one of her previous pronouncements that the chance of her running again for president was probably "close to zero", her solid achievements were already in the history books. At the ripe old age of 68 years, who would have thought that she would have had the stamina for a gruelling campaign? She has again proven that age is only a number, something I endorse, since my ripe old age of 76 years has neither slowed me down nor prevented me from doing whatever I want to do, or going wherever I want to go.

As a member of the International Council on Women's Business Leadership, I am proud to call Hillary Rodham Clinton leader and friend.

I invite my colleagues, male and female, to join me in supporting her in whatever way we can, unless, of course, you prefer to have Donald Trump in the White House.

Go, Hillary!

- M. Audrey Hinchcliffe is chairman and chief executive officer of Manpower & Maintenance Services Limited. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com