Radcliffe: The Origins of "Women's Rights are Human Rights" Pan-American Feminism and the 1945 United Nations Charter


Thursday, April 14, 2016, 5:30pm


Massachusetts Historical Society, Seminar Room, 1154 Boylston Street Boston, MA 02215

Katherine Marino, American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Comment: Kirsten Weld, Harvard University

In June 1945, at the conference in San Francisco that created the United Nations, a group of Latin American feminists pushed “women’s rights” into the category of international human rights in the founding documents of the UN and proposed what became the UN Commission on the Status of Women. The Brazilian delegate and feminist Bertha Lutz called their work a “Latin American contribution to the constitution of the world.” This paper examines what “women’s rights” and “human rights” meant to these Latin American activists and how a movement of transnational, Pan-American feminism shaped their ideas and activism. It argues the notion that “women’s rights are human rights,” often assumed to be a product of US/Western European liberal democratic and feminist thought, was in fact forged through transnational collaboration in a context of fraught US/Latin American relations.

The Boston Seminar Series on the History of Women and Gender—cosponsored by theMassachusetts Historical Society and the Schlesinger Library at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study—offers scholars and students an opportunity to discuss new research on any aspect of the history of women and gender in the United States, without chronological limitation.

The seminar series includes four meetings that will take place during the 2015–2016 academic year, each revolving around the discussion of a precirculated paper. Sessions open with remarks from the essayist and an assigned commentator, after which the discussion is opened to the floor.

Registration for the series is required.

Registered participants may access the papers online at the Massachusetts Historical Society website.

For more information, please call 617-495-8647 or email seminars@masshist.org.