ABOVE PHOTO: Hillary Clinton
By Denise Clay
Before she spoke to the 7,000 women gathered for the Pennsylvania Conference for Women, Linda Cliatt-Wayman’s audience was introduced to her via a video
clip from ABC’s Nightline program.
The clip showed Cliatt-Wayman negotiating a day in her life as principal of Strawberry Mansion High School in North Philadelphia. As she took anchor Diane
Sawyer through the hallways, she negotiated fights, helped kids with issues, and cried in her office as she realized that a student might not be able to
fulfill her dream of a college education because she was unable to pay the deposit to hold her spot.
It wasn’t a job that Cliatt-Wayman, an assistant superintendent who had also been a classroom teacher for 18 years in the School District of Philadelphia,
But, she stepped out on faith, just as she had when she decided to speak at the conference, something that her teaching staff encouraged her to do.
“I soon understood that there is a purpose to the lives of my students and I expect them to fulfill it,” Cliatt-Wayman said. “It’s a little stressful, but
it has to be done. My kids are due an education. All of my kids have dreams buried deep inside of them and it’s going to take a lot of people to see that
they dream. It’s going to take a whole village to save them.”
And that village includes women. Which is another reason why Cliatt-Wayman decided to accept the invitation to the conference, which was held last Friday
at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
“Women are more empathetic,” she said. “Maybe someone in this room can help me get something done. God sent me here for that purpose.”
Cliatt-Wayman was one of the many dynamic speakers that made the conference’s 10th anniversary gathering one of its best attended. Former Secretary of
State Madeline Albright, Judge Glenda Hatchett and Wall Street wizard Sally Krawcheck were on hand to share the wisdom they’ve picked up since their first
appearances at the conference.
But the acknowledged headliner was former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. After being introduced by former Gov. Ed Rendell, Clinton, in one of
her signature pantsuits, took to the stage to announce “No Ceilings: The Full Participation Report”, a global initiative from the Clinton Foundation
designed to help policymakers, academics and others see how much has changed for women and how much needs to change.
The idea behind the initiative is to help policymakers understand that everything runs better when you use the knowledge and talents of your entire
population, not just the male half.
“Women everywhere are agents of change,” Clinton said. “All they need is a fighting chance. There are too many ceilings, laws and customs that limit
women’s access and this holds countries back both economically and socially. No country can truly thrive by holding back half of it’s population.”
In addition to the keynote addresses, there were a variety of workshops designed to help women start their own businesses, get their stories told and
become better arbiters of their own health.