Clinton said the initiative, launched through the Clinton Foundation, will look at the progress made by women and chart a path toward full participation in the economy and society. The former secretary of state said at the Pennsylvania Conference for Women that too many women face ceilings "that hold back their ambitions and aspirations."
"I believe that women everywhere can be and are agents of change, drivers of progress, makers of peace," Clinton said. "All we need is a fighting chance to show what we can do in every part of life."
Polls have shown Clinton as the leading Democratic contender for president in 2016 if she decides to run. Clinton has said she plans to begin seriously considering it next year but has largely steered clear of politics since leaving the State Department, focusing on paid speeches, an upcoming book and her family's foundation.
Addressing 7,000 people at the women's conference, Clinton made no mention of a future presidential campaign but struck themes of women's empowerment that could be part of a future campaign to become the first woman to win the White House.
The former New York senator said in the U.S., many women are the primary financial providers for their families and some are living shorter lives than their mothers. She cited the challenges of unemployment and economic stress in communities "hollowed out by inequality and poverty."
"Women trying to build a life and a family in such places don't just face ceilings. It's as if the floor has collapsed beneath them," Clinton said.
The title of the project, "No Ceilings," was reminiscent of her endorsement of Barack Obama after their lengthy Democratic presidential primary contest in 2008. Clinton said in the June 2008 speech that while she didn't break the ultimate glass ceiling of reaching the White House, "it's got about 18 million cracks in it," a nod to the number of people who voted for her.
She said the new initiative will look at progress made by women since the 1995 United Nations conference on women in China that she addressed as first lady. She said it would work with partners in the technology industry to create a "digital global review" of data that will be used by advocates, academics and decision-makers to "see the gains and see the gaps."
"We need to help our girls see that they are capable of doing anything and stand behind our women as they break through the doors that are still closed," Clinton told attendees.
Looking ahead to the project, Clinton said she was "absolutely confident that we can send a clear, unmistakable message that ceilings in America are unacceptable."
"Ceilings around the world that prevent education and health care and jobs and opportunity are equally unacceptable, and we're going to be about the business of making sure those ceilings crack for every girl and every woman here and around the world," Clinton said. "So let's get cracking."