BOSTON (AP) — Former President Bill Clinton on Thursday called on people across the world to speak out against the kidnapping of hundreds of Nigerian girls, highlighting violence against women, climate change and economic inequality as areas where those in America and abroad must come together.
“All over the world there are places where men’s identity is all caught up in whether they get to tell women what to do and restrict their choices,” Clinton said. “We have to develop a sense of identity which is inclusive.”
Clinton appeared at Boston’s Symphony Hall Thursday night, where he was honored by the international education organization City Year for his work in national service. As president, Clinton helped create AmeriCorps, the service organization that helps fund City Year.
While Clinton continues to play an active role in national politics, he did not mention the 2014 midterm elections or the next presidential contest, where his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former U.S. Secretary of State and U.S. Senator, is the overwhelming favorite to win the Democratic presidential nomination should she run. Hillary Clinton was not in attendance, nor was 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, whose former Boston-based firm Bain Capital was a major sponsor of the event.
Instead of politics, Clinton focused on areas he said people must unite around to address global challenges.
He spoke out against the terrorist group Boko Haram, which recently kidnapped nearly 300 girls in Nigeria as part of a larger effort to prevent their education. The girls are still missing.
Eighty U.S. Air Force personnel have arrived in neighboring Chad and begun their mission manning a Predator drone system to help locate the girls, a U.S. military spokesman said Thursday. Manned U.S. aircraft also are searching from a base in nearby Niger.
On climate change, Clinton said, “We don’t seem to be approaching it together.” And he warned that economic inequality “is not only bad morals and bad social policy, but it’s a severe restraint on growth.”
“The central issue facing humanity,” Clinton said, is whether people in America and abroad understand how interdependent they are. “We have to go forward together.”