FEBRUARY 19, 1946
DUBLIN, Ireland En Route to New York—While I was in London, I happened to hear some one say, "Given a certain situation, the United Nations Organization might possibly succeed." Curiously, from the very beginning, I felt that, unless we approached our work in a spirit of defeatism, we would succeed, so I never for a minute thought of the possibility of failure.
In analyzing my feeling, I find it arises from the fact that, in all the years of my husband's public life, particularly the last twelve, in which he seemed to meet one crisis after another, I never once heard him make a remark which indicated that any crisis could not be solved. He might frankly admit he did not know the answer to a difficult situation, but he always had complete confidence that some one would find the answer. No one can expect always to deal correctly with every question, but a confident approach gives one a better chance of success.
My own approach to any difficulties that emerge among the United Nations is that there is one paramount thing to remember—namely, that we have discovered super weapons of destruction. If we wish, we can destroy ourselves and our entire civilization. If we do not wish to do this, then we must learn to get on together without war. That entails the success of UNO.
It does not seem to me to be a question of "if" we succeed, since the only alternative is complete destruction. Therefore, I've never allowed myself to be pessimistic and I hope that the primitive urge of self-preservation will drive all leaders of all peoples to the same effort for attaining peace which they put into destroying their enemies in war.
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That's one reason why I feel that the participation of women in this effort is more important throughout the world than ever before. Men and women have found, in many other undertakings, that success was achieved when they worked closely together. It seems to me essential that women should now take their place in public affairs.
True, there are many women who cannot possibly run for office or attend conferences. They have houses to look after, husbands to take care of, children to bring up. However, nothing precludes them from finding time to take an interest in community affairs. Women free to do so should work along with men and accept responsibility within their communities, and that should carry on up into positions of state and national importance.
There are still, of course, many countries in which women are not recognized as equal citizens and have many restrictions imposed on them. In those countries, changes must come about more slowly.
In the matter, however, of keeping before our people the importance of the work of UNO, I hope women have the capacity to think up new ways of presenting the urgency of establishing peaceful international relations on a firm footing. When all is said and done, the greatest thing in life for any woman is love of her family, and it is her family that is at stake in the failure or success of this organization.
Though my responsibilities as a delegate to the UNO conference have come to an end, I do not feel they have ended at home. All of us who took part in the conference have an obligation to find ways—in newspapers, in magazines, over the radio, and by word of mouth—to awaken the people of various countries to a greater interest in and clearer perception of what UNO may become and how, in time, it may affect our daily lives.
I remember an international meeting of country women in Washington many years ago. Farmers' wives came from all over our nation and Europe, some came from Latin America, and some from Pacific areas. They interchanged information, discovered where their products found a market, and how they depended on each other. For years afterward, women in various parts of our country came up to me and told me that they had established a letter-writing acquaintance with women in far corners of the world and that never before had they realized how a drought or change in production might affect the people of other countries.
That's what I want to see multiplied over and over, until a housewife in Belgium, Norway, Italy, China or the Philippines knows what her sisters in other parts of the world are doing and how something which she does touches their lives. Women in factories or offices should have some idea how the results of their labor affect the lives of workers like themselves in many other places. When we women attain that amount of consciousness about each other, there will be no question of our cooperation to keep peace in the world.
(WORLD COPYRIGHT, 1946, BY UNITED FEATURE SYNDICATE, INC.; REPRODUCTION IN WHOLE OR PART PROHIBITED.)
About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, February 19, 1946
Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007
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