Remarks by Ambassador Patricia Haslach at Temsalet Book Launch
Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 6:30 pm
Your excellency, First Lady Roman Tesfaye.
My sisters here this evening; ladies and gentlemen:
I am very happy be here this evening representing the U.S. Embassy, and honored to be part of this ceremony applauding the launch of the book,Temsalet: Phenomenal Ethiopian Women.
When I first heard about this project, I was immediately drawn in by the inspirational stories of the courageous women showcased within the covers of the book. As the name depicts, they are all phenomenal role models.
This evening, I’d like to talk to you all a bit about the importance of role models, particularly in the life of young girls. A role model is often defined as someone who you would like to emulate when you get older, or someone who inspires you. She might be somebody who performs outstanding volunteer work. Or she might be a community leader. Maybe she performed an extraordinary feat or accomplishment. Or she could be the first in her field, as a woman. Regardless of why or how they inspire us, true role models are those who possess the qualities that we would like to have and make us want to be better people.
There are so many people in my life who have influenced me, from my parents to my teachers, but this evening I wanted to focus on a particular Temsalet in my life, former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt.
A revered female icon of the 20th century, Eleanor Roosevelt grew up in the aristocratic Roosevelt family. Orphaned early in life, she later married a distant relative, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who would become the United States of America’s 32nd President. Eleanor Roosevelt once said she never wanted to be first lady. But when she assumed the role, she undertook an ambitious agenda to bring about progressive change.
Eleanor Roosevelt was a woman who used her influence to stand for racial equality, civil liberties and women’s rights, at a time when those ideals weren’t overly popular in the United States. Like many of the women highlighted in the book Temsalet, her journey to greatness was one spent overcoming many obstacles. However, her ability to rise above adversity made her a champion for disadvantaged groups and a role model to many people.
Her work continues even today. For example, if we look at the issues topping the agenda of the recent 69th UN General Assembly (UNGA), one thing was clear: Without equal participation of women, we stand no chance of tackling global threats or preventing future ones from emerging. During President Obama’s official address to the UNGA, he reiterated the U.S. government’s commitment to ensuring women’s inclusion in decision making. He acknowledged that meaningful participation of women is critical “in parliaments and in peace processes; in schools and the economy,” just as Eleanor Roosevelt once stood for.
As we celebrate the inspirational women highlighted in the book, Temsalet: Phenomenal Ethiopian Women, many of whom fall into the categories I just mentioned, I invite you all to think about the role models in your life, and also how you can be a role model to others.
Enjoy the rest of the evening and Betam amaseganehlu!