Derek Montgomery/Herald photo

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-New York, spoke to a packed house about gender equality while shying away from announcing any presidential intentions at the Monona Terrace Friday evening.

During her speech, Clinton also addressed the history of women’s rights in the United States.

“The struggle for women for full equality has been one the U.S. pursued with increasing vigor in the 19th and 20th centuries,” Clinton said, “and which is still an unfulfilled promise for women around the world.”

Clinton commended the state of Wisconsin for its role in the women’s rights movement.

“Wisconsin women were in the forefront,” Clinton said. “They were part of the vanguard of the movement for equality and full participation that would eventually bring rights and duties of citizenship to every American.”

In 1921, Wisconsin was also the first state to guarantee women full and equal civil rights.

However, Clinton said despite strides made for women, there is a lot more that can be done.

“If we are to be all we can be as a nation, we cannot rest until every little girl and every little boy who might aspire to public service has the opportunity to pursue that dream,” Clinton said.

Public servants need to work on strengthening democracy and extending full and equal rights to all people, she added.

Questions were raised as to whether Clinton will run in the 2008 presidential elections.

“I think she has one thing on her mind right now,” attendee Gov. Jim Doyle said. “And that’s getting re-elected in the Senate in 2006.”

However, U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, expressed hope that Clinton will run in 2008.

“Some speculate that in 2008 there might be a woman on the ballot for president,” Baldwin said. “And I like the sound of that.”

Clinton served as the keynote speaker for the annual Wisconsin Women in Government scholarship banquet.

WWIG is a bipartisan organization that works to promote the participation of women in public affairs.

The night did not solely center on the former First Lady, however.

At the banquet, six WWIG scholarship recipients and one internship recipient were also honored.

“It’s an incredible experience to be here,” said scholarship winner Heidi Bremer, a Marion College undergraduate. “Hillary Clinton has been a role model of mine, so it’s great to be able to see her speak tonight.”

Wisconsin Congresswoman Baldwin and U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, received “First Woman” awards at the banquet. Baldwin received the award for being the first Wisconsin woman elected to the House of Representatives, and Moore was recognized for being the first black woman to represent the state in the Wisconsin Legislature and in the U.S. Legislature.

Other attendees of the event were Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager and Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton.

“I think we are just beginning to see how women can change [government],” Lawton said. “If we see more women in politics, we will see the agenda become clear, and we may even get government we can afford.”