PAN HELLANIC PROGRAM
CARRIE CHAPMAN CATT
July 13, 1939
FREEDOM FOR THE WOMAN OF TOMORROW
Should you ask me what new freedom will the women of tomorrow enjoy, I would reply: the answer depends entirely upon the intelligent activities of the woman of today.
No new freedom can be acquired unless a large number of women support it with the same patient devotion that upheld the seventy-two year long campaign to win the right to vote. Should a million women now want more freedoms and the number be divided into ten groups, each supporting a different freedom instead of uniting in support of one, the groups will certainly checkmate each other and the gains be afar off. The enemy of a cause does not begin to shiver in dread of (2) surrender until there is union among the supporters.
One freedom needed by the women of tomorrow calls for immediate attention, - the right of a married woman to work although she may have a husband who also works. In twenty-five Legislatures last winter, bills were introduced to this effect. A Massachusetts mayor boasts that he has dismissed some twenty-eight married women from their posts in order that men without jobs might be employed. Are the women of today ready to unite, ready to go forth to prove how false is this theory and how mischievous is its practice.
There are other freedoms needed but there is one task more urgently needing women’s best endeavor than all the others, - War, how to abolish it. All of these movements will bring new freedoms to men and women. Their prevention will certainly restrict freedom.
War has held women enthralled for centuries. Its influences had denied them education and opportunity and still does. If you want freedom, help to destroy war.
War is the oldest institution in the world as it is the most cruel, destructive, uncivilized, and unreasonable. Time was when men went to war in the spirit of adventure, looted and killed, and returned as heroes. That was long, long ago. Modern society can no longer afford to indulge its men in such adventures.
War is as contagious as the measles. It is more destructive than an earthquake. It is Enemy #1 of everything good and decent in the world. Its spirit has spread to business, to politics of all lands, to trade uniforms.
There will never be a really civilized world or nation until war and all its horrible adjuncts are abolished from the earth. Can that be done? Yes, it will be done when the people demand it.
We women are half the people, but as yet women do not acknowledge that they are equally responsible for world affairs. They have too recently emerged from the ancient tutelage; they are not sure of themselves, and are uncertain what action is to be taken.
We are in need of Amazons, - not for use on the gory battlefields as of yore, but Amazon crusaders on the field of truth and progress.
Said Mary Wollstonecraft, who wrote the first books on Women’s rights one hundred and fifty years ago: “We would have women advance and not retard the progress of human society.” So say we now. How far civilization will travel in the next century; how much freedom nations will allow their citizens of tomorrow; how much confidant responsibility women will assume, depends upon the activities of the women of today.
We women of the past did our best. If you, women of today, do your best, it will be a better contribution than we made since you have education and pocketbooks. Our movement began when women had neither. Arise, brave women of today. Do your best. Have a vision and march toward it. Arise march!