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Equal playing field must be created for women in politics – Chelsea Clinton

Chelsea Clinton in conversation at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast (PA)
Chelsea Clinton in conversation at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast (PA)

An equal playing field must be created for women in politics, the daughter of a former US president has said.

Chelsea Clinton also pressed the importance of “centring women and girls in story-telling”, such as with the hit TV series Derry Girls, in which she had a walk-on part.

And Ms Clinton expressed her anger at the recent overturning of the landmark Roe v Wade ruling on abortion by the US Supreme Court.

She was speaking as she took part in an Our Place In Space event at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast on Wednesday following the publication of the book Gutsy Women she wrote along with her mother Hillary Clinton.

The Supreme Court last week ended constitutional protections for abortion that have been in place for nearly 50 years by deciding to overturn the Roe v Wade ruling.

Ms Clinton vowed to work to mitigate harms but she said, despite being asked throughout her life, she has no intention of following in the footsteps of both her parents by running for political office.

“I’ve never seriously thought about it as the path for me at any given point in time,” she told the PA news agency.

“Although I want that question to be asked of everyone whose last name isn’t Clinton because I think the more people who think, ‘oh, I could run for office, I do want to affect change in my community’, the better we all will be.”

Ms Clinton said data from across the world indicates it is much harder for women to run for office and be elected.

“It’s often harder for women to raise money, which in the United States is an important part of the process although it should not be, harder for them to have equal political coverage from journalists often just because of the space that is consumed by describing what a woman is wearing,” she said.

“We absolutely know that not only our norms need to shift on the more obvious points around eliminating misogyny and the language of misogyny but also there are other ways that women are penalised that are not as visible but equally need remedied if we’re truly going to have an equal playing field.”

Asked about her appearance in the final episode of the final series of Derry Girls which focused on the peace process of the late 1990s which led to the Belfast Agreement, Ms Clinton said she had been excited to be asked to take part as a fan of the show, and immediately said “yes”.

Martin McGuinness funeral
Former US president Bill Clinton (PA)

Her father Bill played a central role in encouraging the Northern Ireland parties to reach a deal at that time.

Speaking alongside Tara-Lynne O’Neill, who played Mary Quinn in Derry Girls, at the Lyric Theatre event, Ms Clinton said it had been a joy.

“It was such a magical day when she (writer Lisa McGee) and the crew came and we filmed in New York, it was a bright, beautiful sunny day. I was so proud and excited that I was not only at the end of the series but I was at the last day of filming on the entire show.

“It was just a joy. I had even more fun than I expected to have,” she said.

“I cried when I watched it, even though I knew what was going to happen.”

Ms Clinton emphasised the importance of Derry Girls as the voice of females, written by a woman, Lisa McGee.

“We know that so often it’s boys who raise their hands to tell stories, to write stories and so I really hope to talk about why I think it’s so important that we empower young girls to tell stories and we continue to support people like Lisa McGee to tell important stories to make our lives more interesting, more full of laughter but also to help us think about the world in important and provocative ways,” she said.

Almost 25 years on from the Belfast peace accord, Ms Clinton said she remembered so vividly her father getting updates from the peace talks, and the “swelling possibility that something might happen that would be robust, and real and meaningful, and could have the chance to really change the future in a very profound way for a place that my father cared so intensely about”.

She added: “To see the possibility become reality had a profound impact on me as a kid. It’s what we hope we elect our officials to do, to help the future become safer, more equitable, more just and more peaceful.”