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  • Nation Books

It's up to the Women

Eleanor Roosevelt

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Prose: non-fiction, History, Gender studies: women

A classic clarion call from First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, with a new introduction by Jill Lepore.

Written at the height of the Great Depression, IT'S UP TO THE WOMEN is Eleanor Roosevelt's advice to women of all ages on every aspect of life. During a time of extreme hardship, she called on women particularly to do their part-cutting costs where needed, spending reasonably, and taking a personal responsibility to keep the economy going. She wrote, "Women, whether subtly or vociferously, have always been a tremendous power in the destiny of the world and with so many of them now holding important positions and receiving recognition and earning the respect of the men as well as the members of their own sex, it seems more than ever that in this crisis, 'It's Up to the Women!'"

Roosevelt was among the earliest and most influential people of the time to compile such a wide-ranging treatment of the roles women should take in both private and public life. Her opinions about women's equality, civil rights, and a higher standard of education in the United States were ahead of her times. She argued for:

* the need for equal pay for equal work
* the sheer necessity of quality education
* less indifference regarding the right to vote
* the necessity of knowing one's neighbours for both urban and rural citizens.

She also commented on the stark "condition" changes related to the Great Depression-homelessness, hunger, and alterations in the social order within communities and within families. Within this context, she calls upon the women to lead with this timely advice:

Although Roosevelt was still within her first year as First Lady of the United States when she wrote this book, she had already rewritten the role with her active participation politics, speaking tours around the country, and her participation in press conferences. In this book, she showed a firm grasp of what was going on in the lives of the American women and of the role women could and should fulfil in the life of the nation.

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