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Eleanor Roosevelt Speeches

Pan-American Union Address, Track 3

April 20, 1944


Speech to the Women of the Pan-American Union

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Largely in this area in economic conditions, many of us have sent our sons away to far off countries, or our husbands, or our brothers. But all of us have experienced certain economic conditions we couldn't get away form. They touched us all. Well in the same way when the days come for peace, we will-- all of us feel the results of the years of destruction and it will be our joint effort only that will bring us through that period either more constructively prepared to do a good job in the future or else already to fall apart and have another war in so many years. And you never can tell where the war will be or where it will affect the people most. And so it is of concern to all of us, every one of us, what we're able to do, how we use our citizenship to accomplish something through our government.


There was a time when women can say-- could say, "We have no responsibility for government at all." Now there may be some women here who will say, "Well we have no say in our government. There is nothing we could do." Yes you can. You can create public opinion, and women can create public opinion more quickly even than men and they have a great responsibility. I think the day will come when all of us will be able to act directly, but until that day comes, don't let's ignore the fact that for a long time we used a great deal of indirect influence and we used it very forcefully. And so there is no excuse for any women anywhere to feel that their job is done if they take an interest in their homes and their own children and in the charities which are traditionally the work of women. That isn't enough anymore. That isn't fulfilling your full responsibility. And the future will not be kind to any of us if we shook our responsibilities. The resp-- The more we can act directly, the greater our responsibility is. But not having the ability to act directly is no excuse for not acting because we can move, we women. We can find ways of doing the things we want to do. And this is just a question of whether we want to do things together enough to be a power. A power for the things we believe in or whether we again are going to be so apathetic, so indifferent that we hide behind the excuse: it's a man's job; women don't have to take that responsibility.


So I hope that here in this meeting and here in this hall each one in our own heart, we will take a pledge, a pledge to the future and a pledge to youth, youth that pays so heavily for the mistakes of its elders. A pledge that we to the best of our ability, [ER coughs] every woman here, will work with the other women of this hemisphere to achieve a better foundation for peace and thereby a better future for youth in this hemisphere.


Program Participants

  • : Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced


About this document

Pan-American Union Address, Track 3

April 20, 1944


Eleanor Roosevelt

Project Editors
  • National Endowment for the Humanities

Eleanor Roosevelt Speeches is a project and publication of The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project, The George Washington University, Academic Building, Post Hall, Room 312, 2100 Foxhall Road, NW, Washington, DC 20007

Transcript Editors
  • : Lewis, Britanny
  • : Melvin, Melissa
  • : Arquette, Arianna
  • : Alhambra, Christopher   [ ORCID: 0000-0002-6299-793X | VIAF ]

Transcribed and published by the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project, 2019-11-27

Transcription created from holdings at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library