JUNE 1, 1946
HYDE PARK, Friday—As I was leaving the United Nations meeting last Tuesday, a newspaper woman stopped me to ask if there was a cleavage in the Human Rights Commission on the subject of the report made by the Subcommission on the Status of Women. I was glad to be able to tell her that there has been no disagreement that I know of on the part of any member of the commission.
Some of us felt that the report, because it was the work of a nuclear subcommission operating under very definite terms of reference, had perhaps covered too much ground and gone into too much detail, much of which might have been left for consideration by the full subcommission when it is appointed. However, except for this one criticism, which certainly meant no fundamental cleavage in thinking, I heard no criticism of any of the recommendations made.
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It is known that I have opposed a group of women in this country, who have been in favor of an equal rights amendment to our Constitution. As some of them have been active in working on the outskirts, so to speak, of this subcommission, I suppose they felt that I would be in opposition to the report. That, of course, is not true.
I believe that, if the ladies who are so anxious to have a federal amendment for equal rights would devote as much energy toward changing the State laws which really interfere with the rights of our women, they would soon find they had little of which to complain. I am still opposed to an equal rights amendment, which would make it possible to wipe out much of the legislation which has been enacted in many states for the protection of women in industry. This, however, has nothing to do with the report in question.
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We cannot change the fact that women are different from men. It's true that some women can do more than men, and some can do men's jobs better than men can do them. But the fact that they are different cannot be changed, and it is fortunate for us that this is the case. The best results are always obtained when men and women work together, with the recognition that their abilities and contributions may differ but that, in every field, they supplement each other.
The report of the Subcommission on the Status of Women frankly recognized this difference and the need for special considerations where women are concerned. I do not know whether the group I mentioned is opposed to this section of the report or not, but I am quite sure that, as this is an international report, they will have comparatively little influence on the thinking of the Economic and Social Council in its consideration of the report as a whole.
This report was undertaken with great seriousness, and I think the women who worked on it deserve great praise, especially the chairman, Mrs. Bodil Begtrup, who gave so much of her time and thought to having the report truly represent the thinking of the whole subcommission.