I have to say studying politics and having a module on US foreign policy, I am frankly over the debate of what the presidents of the US of the past have done and what the new one could do to damage the success of progression that has been made over the past couple of years (Cheers Trump, for basically forbidding NGOs to talk about abortion if they want US funding and therefore impact the right that every woman has on her body).
So today I want to talk about two first Ladies that have had an influential career themselves. Both of these women are role models to me in terms of empowerment of women and the work they have done both within the term of her husbands’ time as presidents and outside of it.
The two woman that I want to talk about are Eleanor Roosevelt and Michelle Obama as to me they have both shown that as the wife of a president you can do more than looking pretty and hosting dinner parties, they both used the public exposure and power that came along with their husband’s job to promote issues that are of high importance to them and have left/ will leave a legacy behind that we are all able to benefit from.
Firstly, I want to talk about Eleanor Roosevelt. She was the wife of Franklin D. Roosevelt who was in office from 1933 to 1945. She heavily changed the role of the First Lady as she was not sitting quietly in the background, but was giving press conferences and was writing a newspaper column. She openly disagreed with some of her husbands politics and was representing and discussing issues such as women’s and children’s rights and matters, human rights, racial discrimination and helping the country’s poor.
Of course during that times being this vocal and a woman was heavily criticised as women were supposed to be standing in the back and supporting their husband’s through their domestic duties rather than voicing their opinions on politics. She did not let this stop her however, and is today seen as one of the most important women’s and humans rights advocates of her time. Moreover, she was one of the first people to use the mass media to promote issues and to put them on the agenda.
After her husband’s death she kept being part of the public service and one of her biggest achievements was as part of the UN High Commission on Human Rights to write the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
During her lifetime she defied norms that she was expected to uphold, especially in a position as public as hers. Yet, it did not stop her from fighting for issues that mattered to her and which she deemed important to the public and international community.
I think, she is someone we can all learn from as standing up for your beliefs might not always be the easiest thing to do and a lot of times not a popular thing, but that you should never let anyone put you down or tell you you are not worth fighting for it.
Michelle Obama is a very recent example, but I think most of you will agree with me when I say she is incredible and a great role model. (Also her and Obama’s relationship is beautiful). As the wife of Barack Obama she was heavily involved in campaigns regarding education, child obesity and poverty. She always seemed very approachable and was always seen interacting with popular media with guest appearances on TV shows, Talk Shows and YouTube channels. She has spoken out for the right of education for girls world wide and is part of the ‘let girls learn’ campaign.
To me, she was one of the main assets Barack Obama had during his presidency as she was very openly and persistently addressing issues that mattered to her.
Her popularity has, I think, a lot to do with the genuine manner she presents herself and therefore it is no surprise that there is a large group of people globally that would have loved to see her run for presidency.
She has proven that kindness, brains and determination can go a long way and this is an important lesson that we all need to learn especially in times like these when hatred seems to be on the rise.
I will finish of with my favourite quotes of these two amazing ladies, as they have both tons of wisdom for future generations to come and who have both shown that women are a force to be reckoned with.
Lots of Love, Katie
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
“You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own. ” -Michelle Obama