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In November, I urge members of the Penn community to vote for Hillary Clinton as the next president. Such a vote should not be treated as a vote for the “lesser of two evils” but rather as a vote for a seasoned politician who has spent her career fighting for women’s and children’s causes.

Most of us have heard the story of how Hillary Clinton spoke before the United Nations conference in Beijing in 1995 and declared that “human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights.” However, while we often praise Clinton’s advocacy work at the conference, we often forget that the Democratic nominee has a consistent, decades-long record of affecting positive change for women and children around the world.

When Hillary Clinton left university, she could have found work at a lofty legal firm, but instead she chose to work at the Children’s Defense Fund. Then, after a short stint on the House Judiciary Committee, she taught law as an assistant professor at the University of Arkansas. Clinton could have ended her advocacy work there, but instead she worked a second job as the director of the university’s legal aid clinic.

In 1978, President Jimmy Carter appointed Hillary Clinton to the board of directors of the Legal Services Corporation. In her new role, she oversaw a “federal agency that provided legal aid to the poor.” Then, as the First Lady of Arkansas, Clinton pioneered a number of programs that dealt with women and children. As noted by the non-partisan organization PolitiFact:

“[Hillary Clinton] was co-founder of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families and she served as president and a member of the group’s board of directors until 1984. She also chaired an advisory committee on rural health, served on a task force on infant mortality and chaired an Arkansas education task force. She chaired the Children’s Defense Fund board from 1986 through 1992.”

Very impressively, Hillary Clinton accomplished all of this before she became the First Lady of the United States. She would only redouble her advocacy work in her time at the White House. The United States State Department gives Clinton credit for “successful bipartisan efforts to improve the adoption and foster care systems” and “reduce teen pregnancy.” Furthermore, leaders of both parties acknowledge her crucial role in creating the Children’s Health Insurance Program. CHIP now covers 8.4 million children nationwide in families that made modest incomes slightly too high to qualify for Medicaid.

As First Lady, Clinton travelled to more than 80 countries and became a well respected advocate for human rights. Around this time, she co-founded Vital Voices Democracy with Madeline Albright, bringing leadership training to “women leaders across the globe.”

As a two-term U.S. Senator, Hillary Clinton was an advocate for an “expansion of economic opportunity and access to quality, affordable health care.” She also fought passionately for “funding the rebuilding of New York and the health concerns of the first responders who risked their lives working at Ground Zero.” Furthermore, Hillary Clinton staunchly supported “better health care and benefits for wounded service members, veterans and members of the National Guard and Reserves.”

Clinton’s advocacy work also took center stage when she served as Secretary of State. As noted in the Huffington Post, “[Clinton] appointed the first-ever Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues at the State Department; oversaw the creation of the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security; and introduced the Global Health Initiative (GHI), investing $63 billion to help partner countries provide robust maternal and infant health services.”

The Clinton Foundation has also done extraordinary work helping disadvantaged groups, particularly women and children. It provides seeds and other assistance to rural farmers, offers low-cost HIV/AIDS treatment and supplies “life-saving” medication to fight diarrhea. Hillary Clinton is correct in saying that “nine million people have lower-cost HIV/AIDS medicine because of the work of the Clinton Foundation and my husband.”

In short, the Penn community shouldn’t support Hillary Clinton simply because her opponent — the only other viable candidate — has described women as “fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals.” We should support her because she has the best record of all the presidential candidates.

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