Document 39: Florence L. C. Kitchelt to Henry Cabot Lodge, Ambassador to the United Nations, 11 April 1953, typescript, Florence Ledyard Cross Kitchelt Papers, 1885-1961, A-61, Box 4, Folder 85, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.


   For Kitchelt, U.S. endorsement of the U.N. Charter meant direct support of equal rights at home and internationally. With the implied support of social feminists like Eleanor Roosevelt, Kitchelt could challenge the U.S. Department of State when they failed to support treaties that called for women's equality.

Copy –not revised

April 11, 1953

Honorable Henry Cabot Lodge
Ambassador to the United Nations
New York, N.Y.

Dear Ambassador Lodge:

   As a member of the American Association of University Women, of the League of Women Voters of the United States, and of many other groups of women who are profiting by the American guarantee of equal political rights for women, I write to you to protest the un-American stand of Secretary John Foster Dulles in stating that the United States will not sign the Convention on Political Rights for Women[A].

   Secretary Dulles, at the Hearing on Treaties on April 8, stated that he did not think women in all countries were ready or qualified for equal political rights. He should know that one hundred years ago people were saying that about American women, and so continued to deride women until the vote was won in 1920 by a great campaign in which we had the invaluable help of forward-looking men. India has had equal suffrage for only a year. In certain elections more women have voted than men, and more women have been elected to the national Congress than we have in our Congress. And the government is proud of these women!

   I write in the name of many friends who are amazed at the attitude taken by the Secretary and consider it a backward step.

   We deplore his action in denying U.S. signature to this Convention as an undermining of democratic processes and a body-blow to our prestige in the United Nations.

Very sincerely yours,
Florence L. C. Kitchelt

U.N. Treaty on Political Rights for Women

Art.1. Women shall be entitled to vote in all elections on equal terms with men.

Art. 2. Women shall be eligible for election to all publicly elected bodies, established by national law, on equal terms with men.

Art. 3. Women shall be entitled to hold public office and to exercise all public functions, established by law, on equal terms with men.

Mrs. Roosevelt: "In the United States women have the rights specified in this Convention, including the rights we believe Article 3 is intended to cover. We do not believe that 'public office' includes military service."


A. The convention was ratified by the General Assembly of the UN on 20 December 1952, formally adopted 31 March 1953, and went into force 7 July 1954, but without the United States as a signatory. The U.S. finally signed the convention in April 1976. For its full text, see the transcript posted online by "The Multilaterals Project, The Fletcher School, Tufts University," at
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