A Feminist a Day: Eleanor Roosevelt

Who is she?

rooseveltEleanor Roosevelt was the wife of US President Franklin Roosevelt and a human rights advocate.

Eleanor was deeply influenced early in life by the feminist headmistress of her school. Her marriage to FDR was complicated – he cheated on her with his secretary, but she stayed with him regardless.

Eleanor revolutionised the role of the First Lady – when her husband was struck down with polio, she campaigned and made speeches on his behalf, and she introduced her own regular press conferences and wrote a syndicated newspaper column. Sometimes she openly disagreed with her husband’s policies.

She campaigned for greater roles for women in the workplace, for civil rights and for the rights of WW2 refugees. After her husband’s death, Eleanor remained active in politics for the rest of her life. She pressed the United States to join the United Nations and became one of its first delegates. Perhaps her greatest achievement was overseeing the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Why should we thank her?

Eleanor paved the way for forthright First Ladies, like Hillary Clinton and Betty Ford and showed that they could be more than just ‘silent partners’.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is one of the most important documents in the world, and is undoubtedly as relevant today as when it was first drafted.

Best quote

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

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A Feminist a Day: Eleanor Roosevelt

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