Hillary Clinton has said a lot of “grown up male leaders” are scared of teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg.
The former US secretary of state was speaking in London alongside her daughter Chelsea to launch their book – The Book Of Gutsy Women: Favourite Stories Of Courage And Resilience.
In their book they share the stories of the women who have inspired them, and the 16-year-old Swede is among them.
Greta was included in the book one year ago when the mother-daughter duo read about her solitary climate strike in front of Swedish parliament.
“We were so moved by it,” Mrs Clinton said on Sunday night at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall.
Since then, Greta has sailed across the Atlantic and delivered a powerful speech to the UN about climate change.
“It’s been fascinating to watch how scared a lot of grown up male leaders are of this young 16-year-old girl who speaks up about the threat of climate change,” Mrs Clinton said.
The 2016 US Democratic presidential candidate said the fact Greta is a young woman speaking out is “rattling” the paradigms and “ancient DNA” that still exists in society.
“It is maddening to think how much that still operates,” she said.
“You could probably take some of the people who have been so critical of her (Greta) on social media and in other settings, attach them to a lie detector and say ‘don’t you think that’s a bit sexist.’
“And they’d say of course not and they they might even pass because they’re so enthralled to the idea that whatever she’s saying, before we even get to the merits of it, has to be discredited because she should not be saying it.”
Chelsea added that people in the US are attacking Greta because they cannot attack the science around climate change.
“More broadly her real clarity and fearlessness and just being so unbowed and relentlessly focused on the future I think is incredibly threatening to a lot of people,” she said.
Other women in the book include the youngest Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, American educator and advocator for the blind and deaf Helen Keller and professional tennis player Serena Williams.
The book also features other not so well known women such as Diana Nyad who became the first person to swim in waters infested by sharks and lethal jellyfish from Havana, Cuba to Key West, Florida without a protective cage.
The duo was asked if they had a list of men they believe are “gutsy”.
Mrs Clinton said her first thought was Nelson Mandela.
“He was one of the more remarkable, gusty, humane leaders and people that we could know of,” she said.
“In current times there’s a real struggle going on. There’s a lot of toxic-ness coming from male leaders, not to name any.”
She also said former US president Barack Obama was a role model.
“I think Barack Obama was a very gutsy person but who worked so, so hard not to let it show,” she said.
“He knew the undercurrents that were working against him and he’s been a great defender of women’s rights and opportunities.”