Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday at a forum on global women's issues that the rights of women represent "the unfinished business of the 21st century" in the United States and around the world, receiving a rapturous reception for one of her first speeches since departing the Obama administration.

Clinton, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, offered no new clues about her future at the annual two-day Women in the World summit. She said the mission of gender equality is not limited to the developing world, pointing to the need for more women in the United States to achieve equality with men.

"If America is going to lead the way we expect ourselves to lead, we need to empower women here at home to participate fully in our economy and our society. We need to make equal pay a reality," Clinton said, pointing to the need to extend family and medical leave and encourage women and girls to pursue careers in math and science.

"We need to invest in our people so they can live up to their own God-given potential . . . This truly is the unfinished business of the 21st century, and it is the work we are called to do," Clinton said. "I look forward to being your partner in all the days and years ahead."

The former first lady and New York senator was the keynote speaker at a star-studded conference focusing on women across the globe, featuring appearances by actresses Angelina Jolie and Meryl Streep. It was Clinton's second high-profile speech this week and coincided with the announcement Thursday that she is working on a memoir about her years as secretary of state.

The speculation about her future was an undercurrent in the audience. Tina Brown, editor-in-chief of Newsweek and the Daily Beast, the summit's sponsor, received loud cheers when she introduced Clinton, teasing, "Of course, the big question now about Hillary is what's next."

Yesterday's agenda included a panel on technology moderated by Clinton's daughter, Chelsea.

In an emotional moment from Jolie underscoring the plight of women across the globe, attendees were introduced to Malala Yousufzai, the Pakistani teenager who was shot in the head by the Taliban for advocating for girls' education.

"Today I'm going to announce the happiest moment of my life," the 15-year-old said in a brief video from Britain. She said that thanks to the new "Malala's Fund," which she will administer, a new school in her homeland would be built for 40 girls. "Let us turn the education of 40 girls into 40 million girls," she said.

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