Women's Rights Are Human Rights: A Rhetorical Analysis of Hillary Rodham Clinton's UN Address

Women's Rights Are Human Rights: A Rhetorical Analysis of Hillary Rodham Clinton's UN Address

Samantha Law
Research Methods
November 5, 2015

Women’s Rights Are Human Rights


In September of 1995, Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered her historic address at the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China. Clinton focused on the peace and well-being of women worldwide, placing a particular importance on the advancement of women’s rights on a global scale. Through the use of ethos, pathos, and logos as a literary device, Clinton aimed to humanize the women of the world to enable audience identification and effective resonation. This essay will challenge Clinton’s rhetoric by illustrating the ways in which she leveraged her privilege to impose ideals of experiential unity and overwhelming global responsibility.
The U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women united more than 12,000 attendees from around the world in order to draft an action plan for the universal advancement of women’s rights. Leaders, like Clinton, urged non-governmental organizations and U.N. governments to push policies which would globally liberate women in making independent decisions in regards to birth control and rape, among other relevant issues.
Throughout the course of Clinton’s speech, there lies a common theme which I will refer to as, “We Are Every Woman.” This motif is primarily used as a device to establish unity among the women of the conference, but also to establish pathos – emotional appeal. It is clear that Clinton’s intent is to generate a sense of identification and relatedness in order for the volume of hardship she later unloads to be received with open ears. Clinton sets this framework by initiating her speech as such: “We come together in fields and factories, in village markets and supermarkets, in living rooms and board rooms…However different we may appear, there is far more that unites us than divides us.” From herein out, Clinton continually draws upon this proposed shared experience of women – everywhere. Her rhetoric even goes so far as to...

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