LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a crowd in downtown Louisville that they needed to take the lead on improving women's quality of life.
Clinton highlighted her own faith in a speech to about 7,000 attendees of the national United Methodist Women's Assembly on Saturday morning.
She made no mention of her 2016 presidential aspirations during the event at the Kentucky International Convention Center. Clinton steered away from politics for most of the speech, focusing on religion and women's issues.
"I am delighted to be here among my fellow Methodists," Clinton told the crowd. "I know what a difference you can make."
Clinton - who spoke away from the podium and without referring to notes - advocated for an equal pay provision, raising the minimum wage, paid family leave, and increased funding for math and science education.
She often referred to her international work with women's issues, but said the U.S. faces many of the same problems.
"If we're going to be grading and judging other countries, we need to be holding ourselves to very high standards as well," Clinton said. "No country can thrive by holding back any of its people, let alone half of its people."
Clinton spent about one-third of her 40 minute speech talking about the Methodist church she attended as a child in Park Ridge, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.
She said her upbringing provided the foundation for her political career as First Lady, a U.S. senator from New York, and Secretary of State under President Barack Obama.
People in the crowd gave Clinton a standing ovation during the speech.
"She was wonderful," said Jean Gewin of Illinois. "I think she represents much of what Methodist women are."
The next step for many of the women is to take Clinton's message back to their hometowns, said Kate Webster of Illinois.
"I think, to educate more people, you'll have more people to work on the problem and try to solve it," Webster said.
The United Methodist Women's Assembly brought people from all over the world to Louisville for events this weekend.