Co Chair Blog Feb 2024
Recent Holocaust Memorial Day events led me to reflect back on the drawing up the Universal Declaration of Human Rights published in 1948 and the pivotal work and achievements of Eleanor Roosevelt.
Eleanor was born in 1884 into a wealthy church going family but she was orphaned at ten years old. She came to England at the age of fifteen to attend a boarding school where she was inspired to explore all aspects of her world by her forward thinking headmistress. She describes this as the happiest time of her life. She married her cousin Franklin and involved herself in supporting his political career as well as her own civil rights interests. She served as first lady for fifteen years after her husband became President of the United States of America. She was a champion of the rights of women, racial equality and support of the poor and marginalised in society.
After the Holocaust and the recognition that 17 million people including 6 million Jews had perished, there was concern that measures must be taken to ensure such horrors did not happen again. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights contains 30 key rights and freedoms that continue to form the basis of international law today.
After the death of her husband in 1945 Eleanor then sixty one years old was appointed Chair of the Commission on Human Rights that ran from 1946 to 1951.The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948.
Instead of stepping back and taking life easy she was appointed by John F Kennedy as Chair of the Commission into the Status of Women in 1961. She continued to travel the globe meeting world leaders and producing books and articles until her death in 1964 aged seventy eight.
Eleanor was a lifelong member of the Episcopalian church and spoke and wrote frequently about the inspiration of her faith. I have come to admire her intelligence, determination and tenacity particularly for continue writing books and articles up to the day she died.