APRIL 17, 1953
HYDE PARK, Thursday—The United States Government will not sign the convention on granting political rights to women even with a reservation stating that these rights do not apply to the use of women in combat services. The reason we will not sign is because our Secretary of State has announced that this is one of the treaties he will not present for ratification to the Senate.
In spite of that, however, we are sending a woman, Mrs. Clare Boothe Luce, to represent us in Italy, and she has made no secret of the strenuous briefing she was given in preparation for this service. It is to be hoped that she will find herself well prepared and will receive full cooperation from the State Department.
Now I see that Dr. Frances Elizabeth Willis, a career officer in the U.S. foreign service who has been counselor of our legation in Helsinki, Finland, since February, 1951, may soon be nominated as this country's first Ambassador to Switzerland. According to the article I read in one of our metropolitan newspapers, some of the foreign diplomats in Bern feel that this able and well-trained woman may not be a popular appointment in a country such as Switzerland where the women as yet have not been given the vote.
When I was in Switzerland, I made quite an effort to discover what the feeling really was among the women about the franchise. I found a number of them very eager to be granted the right to vote, but I also found that there was almost an equal number of women who did not want to vote.
Most of the latter gave as their reason that in Switzerland one voted on practically everything, and frequently the vote had to be cast on a Sunday, the day when the women said their men wanted a good dinner, which they would not be able to provide if they had to run out and cast a vote.
I sensed, too, that these ladies who feared that casting a vote might interfere with their tasks at home felt that a great many of the things they would be required to vote on might not be of interest to them. For instance, a vote would be held on building a new highway, or where an industry should be established. They felt they were not equipped to deal with such questions.
Perhaps, though, if they got the vote, they could suggest some reforms that would make it easier for both the men and women to register their will but not to be so constantly called upon.
In any case, I hope the Swiss government will welcome Dr. Willis. I feel sure she would be an intelligent and helpful representative in a country with which we should certainly try to preserve the friendliest of relations. I find Switzerland always a delightful place to visit and I enjoy and admire the people of that mountainous country.