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5 Times Hillary Clinton Made History in the '90s

5 Times Hillary Clinton Made History in the '90s

Hillary Clinton has been a boss forever. I was just too young to remember it. 

For those of us born in the 90s (I was born the year Bill Clinton won the presidential election), memories of Hillary Clinton from that time mostly involve colorful pantsuits, and our parents shielding our eyes through a couple of scandals. Revisiting Hillary’s 1990s political career reveals that the FLOTUS has a whole lot more going on than standing by her man (but not in a Tammy Wynette way) and being the queen of coordinating headbands. Here are five times Hillary made history long before she set her sights on the presidency.

1) She left behind a legacy in Arkansas.
Before Hillary Clinton stepped foot in the White House as the FLOTUS, she was making waves in Arkansas where her husband served as governor. In 1991 the National Law Journal named Hillary as one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America, thanks in large part to her work advocating for children and families in poverty. Hillary chaired the Arkansas Educational Standards Committee and co-founded the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families. She also served on the board of the Children’s Defense Fund. In 1982, Bill Clinton named Hillary as chair of the Arkansas Educational Standards Committee, which gave her the daunting task of reforming a public school system that was ranked very near the bottom of all 50 states. The legacy she left behind in Arkansas when she left for the White House in 1992 lives on.

2) She was not going to spend her time as FLOTUS baking tea and cookies.During Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, Hillary took a lot of heat for maintaining a career of her own. Former California Governor Jerry Brown made an unsubstantiated accusation against Bill, saying he improperly helped his wife’s legal practice as governor of Arkansas. Then 1990s Hillary made a comment that seems impossible to imagine the always carefully polished Hillary of today making. "You know, I suppose I could have stayed home, and baked cookies and had teas," Clinton said in an ABC Nightline interview that aired March 26, 1992. "But what I decided to do was fulfill my profession, which I entered before my husband was in public office." The statement was polarizing—drawing criticism from some for being condescending to stay-at-home mothers—but it did make one thing very clear: Hillary Clinton was going to be a different kind of First Lady.

3) Before there was Obamacare, there was Hillarycare.In 1993, Bill created the Presidential Task Force on National Health Reform and appointed Hillary head of it (which created some controversy). They introduced the Health Security Act, which laid the groundwork for Obamacare. Unfortunately, Hillary’s healthcare bill never made it to a vote in Congress. Hillary didn’t give up on health care during her time in the White House. She pushed for the creation of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which promotes health coverage for low-income children by providing feral funding to states, and insures over 8 million children.

4) She founded the DOJ Office on Violence Against Women.As First Lady, Hillary worked with Attorney General Janet Reno to create the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women. Secretary of State Madeline Albright was one of her closest Cabinet Allies. Clinton used the office to travel internationally and write reports on the rights of women around the world. She was one of the few international figures of the time who spoke out against the treatment of Afghani women by the Taliban. She also helped create the program Vital Voices, which promoted the participation of women in their nation’s political process. One Vital Voices meeting in Norther Ireland drew together women of various political factions that supported the Good Friday peace agreement.

5) "Women’s rights are human rights."
On September 5, 1995, Clinton delivered a watershed speech in a suburb of Beijing during the United Nations Fourth World Congress on Women. Her impassioned speech took on infanticide of female babies, disproportionate levels of poverty, lack of access to education, and girls being sold into slavery and prostitution. "Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights," Clinton declared. 

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Cassie Sheets