APRIL 28, 1951
GENEVA, Friday—I had a letter the other day from a lady whom I take to be young and enterprising. She had just read in the papers a protest against women taking positions in government and asserting that they should stay home in their own kitchens. The article ended with an encomium for Mrs. Truman for minding her own affairs.
The writer ends her letter in this way: "I personally feel that it is the job of every woman to be as good a citizen as she can be, by giving all the time she can spare to public enterprises and the field of politics. It is my feeling also that the kitchen is a good place to formulate these ideas, but one must get far from the kitchen to carry them out."
It seems to me that the lady is right. There are a good many people who must stay at home and who cannot take an active part outside the home. When that is the case they can at least intelligently perform the minimum duties as a citizen and probably no more.
Mrs. Truman has done far more. She has done all that has been expected of the wife of the President and has followed in the footsteps of many fine women who have lived in the White House before her, who were fine wives and mothers and charming hostesses. These are all things that every President's wife must strive to do to the best of her ability.
There are other women, however, who have the time and ability to take as active a part in public affairs as men. When that is the case I think it is well to encourage them to do so and to be grateful that we can have the benefit of the point of view of both men and women in public life. It is essential in home life and nearly all the phases of community activity, so we cannot fail to profit when it is possible to have both men and women active in public life. This is particularly true now when so many questions come up dealing with subjects that are of particular interest to women and frequently about which women are better informed than men.
It is possible at our modern universities for a woman to prepare herself to take an intelligent part in public affairs, and many young people today are particularly interested in international affairs. This is encouraging and helpful because we have so much to learn and there is something that each of us can do, as individuals to improve international relationships.
The fact that the United Nations meets in the United States means that we have a constant flow of people from different parts of the world coming in to our country and traveling around it. Every citizen will come in contact more frequently with these people and they should constantly remember that when meeting the visitors that they are ambassadors of goodwill and dispense hospitality to those from foreign lands.
More and more students also are visiting and studying in the U.S. and the impression of democracy they gain will be from the type of home they come in contact with. So I think that women, whether they are active inside the home or outside the home, have a great responsibility as public citizens.