Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday funding cuts to foreign aid programs implemented by President Donald Trump will be disastrous for women around the world.
Trump has revived by presidential memorandum (an executive action) the so-called "Mexico City" policy, which bans U.S. foreign aid from being granted to organizations that provide abortions or information about terminating a pregnancy.
Clinton, who since her stunning and unexpected loss to Trump last November has been largely silent, described the president's move as "a blow to women and children and a grave mistake for our country."
"We have to ask," she said during remarks at the Georgetown University Institute for Women, Peace and Security, host of this year's Hillary Rodham Clinton Awards, "Will we be left behind or will we lead the way?" The awards honor women who are working to bring peace around the globe.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer defended Trump's decision — one that illustrates his stance as a "pro-life president."
"The reinstatement of this policy is not just something that echoes that value, but respects taxpayer funding as well," Spicer said.
This year's awards were given to several women who played a role in bringing about a peace deal between the Colombian government and the country's largest rebel group, known as the FARC. The two sides signed a peace deal last year to end the conflict, which lasted for decades and led to the deaths of more than 220,000 people and forced millions of others from their homes.
The honorees included Elena Ambrosi and Maria Paulina Riveros, key members of the Colombian government's negotiating team, Jineth Bedoya, a journalist who was raped and tortured at the hands of paramilitary forces, and Colombia's former Vice-President Humberto De la Calle.
Clinton said when women are included in peace negotiations, coalitions are more likely to be brought together and the deals that emerge are less likely to fail.
"Women are not only victims of war ... but must be seen as makers of change," she said. "Global progress depends on the progress of women."
She said advancing the rights of women is the "great unfinished business of the 21st century," and the work done by the institute at Georgetown is "even more critical" today than any time in the past.
"This is strategic and necessary for matters of peace, prosperity and security. It's not a partisan issue, it's a human issue," she said.
WATCH: Clinton on women's role in society
Prior to Friday's event, Clinton had spent most of her time post-election close to her home in the relatively secluded Chappaqua, New York, north of New York City.
During a speech in Scranton, Pennsylvania, earlier this month Clinton said she is "ready to come out of the woods and to help shine a light on what is already happening around kitchen tables."
Clinton is scheduled to publish a new book of personal essays later this year that are inspired by quotations she's been drawn to over the years. The book will tell stories from Clinton's life and use the quotes to reflect on her experiences, including the 2016 presidential campaign.
In May, she will deliver the commencement address at her alma mater, Wellesley College in Massachusetts.