Hillary Clinton opens up about setbacks and optimism for the future

"Life hands all of us setbacks," Clinton said in rare public appearance Tuesday.

March 7, 2017, 3:03 PM

— -- Hillary Clinton, speaking at an event this afternoon where she received an award in recognition for her work on behalf of girls, spoke about her optimism and reflected on her November loss to Donald Trump.

"Now, the truth is, life hands all of us setbacks,” Clinton said to laughs and then cheers from the audience. "Now, we know that. And if you have lived long enough, you have experienced them, haven’t you? Now, I have had my ups and my downs. In the last months I have done my share of sleeping, a little soul searching and reflecting, long walks in the woods and in those moments I am thankful for my own village, my community and family and friends who have supported and encouraged me.”

She added that she has been "buoyed by the love and support that I have received by the young women I have mentored over my lifetime. They inspire me every day.”

In one of her rare public appearances since November, Clinton delivered the keynote address in midtown Manhattan at the Girls Inc. annual New York luncheon, hosted by ABC's Elizabeth Vargas, and received their 2017 Champion for Girls Award. The group works to empower and increase opportunities for girls.

Despite being more vocal on Twitter recently, this was one of the former Democratic presidential nominee’s first public events since November, only recently starting to give speeches and appear in public again. Today, she acknowledged her loss and encouraged her supporters, telling them “our work is far from over,” adding "in big ways and small, the unfinished business of the 21st Century is the full equality of women."

Dressed in the Girls Inc. signature red, she said “there are still too few women in the upper reaches” of academia and science, “not to mention politics and government,” noting women need to get to the “highest reaches of every field.”

"We have to keep fighting, we have to remain stubborn,” she said. “We have to look for mentors to support. And we have to understand despite setbacks and stumbles on our long march to full equality, everywhere I look there are signs of hope. Just think of the march that galvanized the world, think of the hard hitting news on the glossy pages of Teen Vogue across from makeup tips because you know what? Girls can and do care about both.”

She also encouraged women to enter politics telling the audience “let’s make sure we support them.”

“Let us hope there is a wave of young women running for office in America, let’s help them shatter stereotypes and lift each other up,” she said at the event. “They are the history makers, glass ceiling breakers of tomorrow. They are among the reasons I am so optimistic about our future.”

ABC’s Charli James contributed to this report.

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