AUGUST 20, 1947
HYDE PARK, Tuesday—I am getting an increasing number of letters from women who are concerned because they feel that we women are not doing enough to prevent the recurrence of war. I am not sure that there is much that women alone can do. Governments are still largely in the hands of men, and perhaps the most effective action the women can take is to insist that they get representation on all levels in government. There is some chance that in a few countries women might succeed in doing this. But whether that would be possible, even in the governments of the great powers, I am not sure.
And even if women succeeded in getting sufficient influence to get their point of view across to the people of their various nations, I am not certain that in all cases they would be found standing solidly in opposition to war.
* * *
As an example of the type of letters coming to me, I am quoting here one that arrived from Mrs. Nancy J. Barrott, 30, of South Australia. It is "An Open Letter to the Women of America."
"I write to you as one very ordinary woman such as some of you as we stand with a feeling of utter bewilderment, too weak and helpless to stem the tide of preparation for another war. Yet I, like many of you, have tiny children and cannot stand idly by and do nothing.
"I have read that eminent scientists say that mankind must renounce war or commit suicide, Yet all of our countries are going ahead, making the weapons—essentially aggressive weapons—for the war in which man is to commit suicide. We who live in places such as these wonder how other nations regard us. Will they consider it a peaceful action and will they mark our cities down as priority targets when the atomic bombs and rockets begin to fly? Are we not causing them also to build up their armaments in a frantic race of fear against us?
* * *
"Why train our children in love and service to humanity if they are one day to be blasted off the earth? It has been said that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. Well, some hand rocked Hitler's cradle, and some hand also rocked the cradle of Lincoln and other great men who gave their lives in service to humanity. It would be good if all women were to consider into which category they fall, and then up and do something.
"We cannot all do very much—each according to her ability. Those of us who are conscious of our inability would do well to remember that it has not always been the very clever or well-endowed person who has done most to bring many reforms. What is needed is sincerity and tenacity of purpose—yes, and courage.
"Those of us with families of little children can do little but read, talk and write. But there must be many women who have the time and the ability but, as yet, no inclination to act. I write this letter to you all, whoever you are, because I personally feel impelled to act and it is one way in which I can."Rouse up, women everywhere! We cannot let our little ones down."
I am entirely in agreement with the appeal to "rouse up," but when it comes to what action to take, I am afraid I am still somewhat uncertain.
(WORLD COPYRIGHT, 1947, BY UNITED FEATURE SYNDICATE, INC.; REPRODUCTION IN WHOLE OR IN PART PROHIBITED.)
About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, August 20, 1947
Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University Old Main Building, Suite 406 1951 F Street, NW Washington, DC 20052
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