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Students should review the “Women's Rights are Human Rights” exhibit before completing any of the following assignments. Students may work in groups or individually.

Option One

Government officials and members of the public opposed First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton being part of the delegation to the United Nations Fourth Conference for a variety of reasons. Each student or team will be assigned one of three positions: opposing her attendance, due to concerns over human rights violations by the Chinese government; opposing her attendance, due to perceptions that the conference agenda was “anti-family” and “anti-American;” or supporting her attendance.

All students should analyze the following documents found within the exhibit: letter from Representative Barr to President Clinton; letter from a member of the public; and an internal memo from Eric Schwartz to Anthony Lake then present oral arguments in favor of their assigned position.

Following the presentations, students should vote on whether or not the First Lady should attend the conference by a show of hands, paper ballots, an online ballot or poll, or a four corners exercise with the fourth corner being for undecided voters. After the vote, students should review the memo sent by Anthony Lake to President Clinton requesting approval for First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton to attend the conference.

Extension Activity/Informed Action Component:

Using the documents from the exercise as examples, students should write a letter or memo to the current President or another federal government official related to international relations.

Option Two

First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton declared that “women’s rights are human rights” in her 1995 address to the Fourth United Nations Conference on Women. She mentioned “the 75th anniversary of women's suffrage” in the United States and that it “took 150 years after the signing of our Declaration of Independence for women to win the right to vote. It took 72 years of organized struggle before that happened, on the part of many courageous women and men.”

The 1848 Seneca Falls Convention is considered to be the start of the women’s suffrage movement. Attendees affixed their signatures to the Declaration of Sentiments, a document that included rhetoric inspired by the Declaration of Independence. It stated that “all men and women are created equal” and demanded women “have immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of these United States.”

In December 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly.  It set out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt played an instrumental role in drafting the document and served as the first Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights. (For more information about her role, visit the Rooselvelt Presidential Library.)

Each student or team should review one of these three key declarations, identify rights that are guaranteed, and compare these to the rights First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton called for in her speech. The class can then create a Venn diagram to illustrate the overlap of the four documents.

Extension Activity/Informed Action Component:

Students should create a Declaration of Student Rights for their classroom or school.

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