JANUARY 30, 1946
LONDON—I'm glad to have discovered that I made a mistake in saying, in a broadcast the other evening, that there were only two women who were full delegates to the UNO Assembly. Besides myself, there are four:—Mrs. Evdokia Uralova of White Russia, Miss Minerva Bernardino of the Dominican Republic, Miss J. R. McKenzie of New Zealand, and Miss Ellen Wilkinson, MP, of Britain.
That is really some encouragement, but I can't say it completely does away with my feeling that there are not enough women present here. I want to congratulate all those countries who named women as full delegates, but I still want to emphasize the point that many more women could be found who would qualify as technical experts, advisers or alternate delegates. When you are planning for things which will affect the lives of people on an international scale, the point of view of both men and women is important.
In questions, for instance, such as the refugee problem which we discussed in committee on Monday afternoon, the point of view of women is particularly important, because the solution of the problem affects both women and children.
An example of this stands out in my mind. A delegate from Yugoslavia made a very excellent speech in which he pointed out that UNRRA already has returned some 11,000,000 refugees to their countries. The total number of displaced persons was originally estimated at about 12,000,000. In view of this, the delegate could not see why the refugee question was a matter of international concern at all. Said he: "UNRRA should certainly be able, in the course of the next ten months to send back the remaining one million."
Any who did not wish to return to their own country, from his point of view, were either war criminals or people who were out of sympathy with the form of government in their country and would, therefore, form pockets of resistance to the whole democratic movement in the world, in whatever country they were. He said that, naturally, nobody intended to hold the actions of a man against his wife and children but that it must be made certain that the women did not aid and abet anti-democratic movements in which their husbands might be involved.
I can quite see his point that no democratic government wishes to support groups of their citizens who are working to overthrow that form of government while living as refugees in some other country at the expense of the very people whom they are trying to remove from office. However, his arguments seemed to me to strengthen the resolution which Philip Noel-Baker had offered for the United Kingdom, and which, as delegate from the United States, I had supported.
This resolution called upon the Economic and Social Council to appoint a commission to make a thorough study of the whole refugee problem and of all agencies dealing with refugees. During this study, of course, existing agencies would be in no position to move forward on future plans, pending the commission's recommendations to the Economic and Social Council. Nevertheless, I think the UNO would be ill-advised to act on a question of this kind without having a more solid basis of fact than it is possible to discover at the present time without careful investigation.
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Monday evening, I attended what I had been told would be a small family dinner given by the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress at the Mansion House. This small family dinner turned out to include about forty people. I walked in to meet many of the financial heads as well as members of the official governing body of the City of London. It was a delightful evening and I deeply appreciated the fact that, because of my husband, they wished to show me this kindness.
After dinner, I was given a glimpse of some of the rooms of the Mansion House. The most unique feature, I think, is the small courtroom where the Lord Mayor each day disposes of cases brought before him. I was told that the famous suffragette leader, Mrs. Emmeline Pankhurst, was once held in one of the cells which are under the courtroom.
The office of Lord Mayor of London is one of great distinction. In the old days, kings and queens had to come to the mayor and council when they needed to build a fleet or raise an army. The ornament which is worn by the Lord Mayor was given to a mayor by Queen Elizabeth when the city raised money to build a fleet to defend Britain against the Spaniards. At that time, the mayor was also made an admiral, and so today, while he holds this office, he is not only Lord Mayor but an Admiral of the Fleet.
Of course, every European country has old customs and ceremonies in connection with official positions. These mean something in each country's history. I hope that those which are founded on situations which lift the pride and hearts of people will be continued at this time, when people everywhere need to feel that there is strength to be drawn from the past, since it will tide them over the hardships of the present.