Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told the graduating class at all-female Barnard College that women continue to suffer from grave inequality in the United States in her commencement remarks on Sunday.
Power also suggested that Afghanistan is superior to the United States in at least one way in terms of women’s rights because women currently hold 28 percent of the seats in Afghanistan’s parliament.
The ambassador’s 4,362-word speech — some 1,603 percent longer than the Gettysburg Address — began with a quote from Madeleine Albright, the first woman to serve as U.S. secretary of state.
“It used to be that the only way a woman could truly make her foreign policy views felt was by marrying a diplomat, and then pouring tea on an offending ambassador’s lap,” Power quoted Albright as saying. “I’m here to tell you that in 2015, we have other options!”
Still, Power told graduates of the fancypants bastion on New York City’s Upper West Side, women (and minorities) continue to suffer deeply from inequality.
“I want to talk to you about today is how some of the remaining barriers to true equality can, and must, be overcome,” Power proclaimed.
Some 3,480 words later, she noted the brutal hardships Afghan women faced under Taliban rule, but insisted that conditions there have improved.
“Women hold 28 percent of seats in Afghanistan’s Parliament — a higher proportion, I would note, than in the United States Congress,” the U.S. ambassador noted, to great applause.
Power’s claim that the women of Barnard are unable to enjoy full equality obviously does not include any sort of economic or material equality.
Tuition, fees and room and board at Barnard currently costs $62,741. Thus, the four-year cost accumulated by each Barnard graduate is around $250,000.
The median household income in the United States is $43,585, or nearly $20,000 less than the cost of a year at Barnard, according to Gallup.
In war-torn Afghanistan, per capita household income is difficult to measure. However, gross national income per capita is approximately $1,960 — or about $164 per month per person.
Barnard’s $200,000 or more in per-student education costs does not include four years of off-campus expenses in New York City, or any expenses students incur during jaunts in exciting study-abroad locales such as Denmark, France and Spain.
The endowment at the 2,500-student liberal arts college (as of 2013) is $244.2 million, which is roughly equal to the annual gross-domestic product of the island nation of Palau.
In her speech, Power also made several references to the case of Emma Sulkowicz, a student across the street at Columbia University who carried a mattress around campus on her back all year to protest how the school handled her allegation that she was raped. (RELATED: UN Ambassador Samantha Power References Disputed ‘Mattress Girl’ Case In Commencement Speech)
Additionally, the U.S. ambassador suggested that having to decide which bathroom to enter or whether to be male or female on a driver’s license “can be a source of profound anguish” for transgender people.