And the World Will Live as One

October 18, 2010

Eleanor Roosevelt is well known for her role as the wife of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. As we celebrate United Nations Day and the 65th anniversary of the chartering of the United Nations on October 24, it is important to also remember Eleanor Roosevelt as a great humanitarian, political activist, and chief architect of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In 1945, Roosevelt was one of five Americans — and the only woman — to be appointed by President Harry Truman as a delegate to the newly created United Nations. She was a representative in the General Assembly, and she played a key role in establishing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights through her work there in the Social, Humanitarian & Cultural Committee.

Eleanor Roosevelt

President Truman once called Roosevelt “first lady of the world” because of her dedication to global peace. After World War II, she acted as a voice for international citizens, pressuring European colonial powers to grant independence to their colonies. She fought for the creation of the State of Israel, and she blockaded the oppressive interests of the Soviet Union in the General Assembly, influencing some of the most pressing international policies of the era.

While all 192 U.N. member states have ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, not all the members have implemented the articles, and we are not yet living in a world of equality as Roosevelt had envisioned. Her words continue to inspire us as we strive to live in a world at peace.

Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home — so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere.

Today, as we continue to fight for these universal human rights, we celebrate the life of Eleanor Roosevelt and continue to honor women in her name.

In 2011, AAUW will celebrate an individual, project, organization, or institution for outstanding contributions to extending the human right of access to education for women and girls. AAUW gives the Eleanor Roosevelt Fund Award for a broad range of activities including classroom teaching, educational and research contributions, and legal and legislative work in equity for women and girls. While the award focuses on education, the recipient need not be an educator. Please visit our website to nominate a deserving woman, institution, or organization.

The deadline for Eleanor Roosevelt Fund Award nominations is November 1, 2010.

Laura Blyler By:   |   October 18, 2010

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