MAY 25, 1951
NEW YORK, Tuesday—Year by year various women's groups in the United States have been making efforts to induce the Congress to pass an amendment to the Constitution declaring that in every way men and women shall be equal. For a long time I felt that this proposed amendment was completely foolish.
Men and women can be equal but they cannot be identical. They always will have different functions, and even though they do the same things they often will do them differently. That is the real value of having men and women working together. Just as you need a father and a mother in the family, you need men and women citizens to get the best results in the government.
While women in industry were not very well organized it seemed to me unwise to pass an amendment that might remove some of the protective laws passed for their benefit. Today, however, women can be as well organized as men and are certainly able to fight for their rights.
I still think that in our country we really might have achieved more if we had determined in every state to remove such laws from the statute books as placed any disabilities on women. It is usually the state laws that really affect their daily lives.
Nevertheless, I can see that perhaps it does add a little to the position of women to be declared equal before the law and equal politically and in whatever work a woman chooses to undertake.
This position is upheld by the resolutions passed during the last meeting of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. This group adopted a draft convention on political rights for women which will be presented at the next meeting of the Economic and Social Council. If approved and ratified by member governments, it should bring about great changes throughout the world.
There are many parts of the world where women are not entitled to vote or to hold public office under the same conditions as men. It is quite possible, of course, that these conditions will remain as many states will not ratify this covenant at once. Nevertheless, the knowledge that there is such a covenant may well be used by women as a lever to move forward wherever they feel oppressed.
Equal pay for equal work, educational opportunities, the nationality of married women and the status of women in public and private law were all brought up at this last meeting of the U.N. commission.
There is one thing to remember, however, and that is that when you have put things on paper you haven't actually accomplished anything. The people have to accept changes, and when you are changing age-old customs this is sometimes difficult of accomplishment. In a police state an edict may be enforced, but under other forms of government the people have to be persuaded and convinced and that takes time and education. So, even if governments think over these resolutions seriously, it will be the people who will have to bring about these changes.
It is well to get started, however, and I am happy that this consideration is being given to the conditions and opportunities of women throughout the world.
(WORLD COPYRIGHT 1951, BY UNITED FEATURE SYNDICATE, INC. REPRODUCTION IN WHOLE OR IN PART PROHIBITED.)
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About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, May 25, 1951
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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