Margaret C. Snyder, UN’s ‘First Feminist,’ dies at 91

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    Margaret C. Snyder, whose liberal Roman Catholic upbringing inspired a pioneering career at the United Nations, where he rebuilt the Global Development Assistance Mechanism to include millions of women in Africa, Asia and Latin America, on January 26, in Syracuse, NY. Died in She Was 91.

    The cause was cardiac arrest, his nephew James Snyder said.

    Dr. Snyder, who went to Peg, had already spent years working on women’s development issues in Tanzania when she joined the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in 1971. At the time, heavy male employees directed most of their resources to help men. Better farmers and entrepreneurs, even though women were growing and being sold.

    “There was a failure to feel,” she wrote Last year for the United Nations publication, “that the most serious problems of development flawed solutions without women’s participation.”

    During her nearly 20 years at the United Nations and more than 30 years as an informal advisor to the organization, she created a series of programs bringing millions of dollars in training, loans and equipment to women around the world – e.g. For, supplying mills to women for the process of shea butters at 21 Burkina Faso and helping Kenyan women combat soil erosion by planting trees.

    Widely known as the “first feminist” of the United Nations, Drs. Snyder also promoted women within the organization. When she started working at the United Nations, in the early 1970s, most of the women there did secretarial work. Under his influence, that began to change: She Placed young women on her staff and later helped them move through their considerable network of contacts in the United Nations and in their home countries, which eventually included presidents such as Joyce Banda of Malawi and Ellen Johnson Surliff of Liberia.

    “The peg was a trailblazer,” said Comfort Lempti, a UN women’s representative in Nigeria. “She It is believed that if you place money in the hands of women, they can perform magic. “

    The image
    Credit …Through the Snyder family

    Margaret Cecilia Snyder was born on January 30, 1929 in East Syracuse, NY Her father, Matthias, was a doctor, and her mother, Cecilia (Gorman) Snyder, taught Latin and German at a local high school.

    She Survived by her brother, Thomas Snyder. Another brother Robert died in December.

    Syracuse was the center of liberal Catholic ideology in the first half of the 20th century, which led to leading thinkers and activists such as Theodore Hesburgh, longtime president of the University of Notre Dame, and peace advocates Daniel J. and Philip Berrigan.

    Sneaders were friendly to both families, although Drs. Snyder said his biggest influence was on his parents. During the Great Depression, his father placed New Deal posters in the window of his home and took patients for welfare. Her mom earned extra money playing piano for silent films – earning 30 percent less than a man who did similar things on other nights, an example of gender segregation that Dr. Snyder said it inspired her interest in women’s rights.

    In high school, Peg worked for a summer at a settlement house in Syracuse, helping Black immigrants arrive from the south. She Graduated in 1950 attended New Rochelle College in Westchester County; Two years later he received his master’s degree in sociology from Catholic University in Washington.

    While working as dean of women at Le Moyne College, a liberal Jesuit institution in Syracuse, she was mesmerized by him John F. Call of kennedy For young Americans to volunteer abroad. In 1961 he took a year-long break to work with volunteer organizations in Tanganyika (which merged with Zanzibar in 1964) and Uganda. Among other tasks, she arranged for African students to attend college in the United States – known as “Kennedy Airlifts”.

    When her year was over, she quit her job at Le Moyne and moved to Africa, but in 1965 she moved home to help run the East African Studies program at Syracuse University. She Advised area students on their graduate work, many of whom held leadership positions in their countries – the first sources of its continental network. Five years later she moved back to Tanzania, where she completed her Ph.D. In sociology at Dar es Salaam University in 1971.

    The image

    Credit …Through the Snyder family

    In the same year she joined the United Nations, which would become the African Training and Research Center for Women, the first major program of the organization specifically directed at improving economic opportunities for women. In 1978 she moved to New York City, where she was given charge of a development fund focused on women who were paid for voluntary contributions from member states.

    She The creation of the organization, later renamed the United Nations Development Fund for Women (and later the United Nations Women), ranged from operating a global powerhouse on a shoestring budget that has not only developed in Africa, but also in developing Also served women in countries. By the late 1980s, it had created Women’s Development Commissions in 30 countries, through which the United Nations spent millions of dollars to do women’s projects on the ground.

    Dr. “We were trying to make a change, from seeing women as mothers, to seeing women and their economic activities,” said Thelma Awori, former UN Secretary-General who worked closely with Snyder. “Peg picked him up and magnified him.”

    His first grant went to Kenya’s Green Belt Movement, an anti-deforestation initiative led by Wangari Mathai, which won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2004 for that work. Dr. Snyder and Ms. Mathai remain close friends – whenever Ms. Maathai came to New York, she was a Dr. at Mitchell Place in Manhattan, just north of the United Nations. Will live in Snyder’s spacious, light-hearted apartment, and Dr. Snyder hosted a wedding party for his daughter Vanjira.

    After retiring from the United Nations in 1989, Drs. Snyder was a Fulbright Scholar in Uganda and a fellow in the School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton. She Also wrote or authored three books on the economic development of women in Africa.

    But perhaps her most important post-retirement job was as a consultant and an advocate for a long list of women activists and organizations, many of which she hosted in her apartment. It was in 2006, that she helped organize the Sirleaf Market Women Fund, a program to rebuild markets in war-torn Liberia, named after Ms. Sirleaf, the country’s first female president.

    For all his career success, Drs. Snyder was in constant conflict with vested interests within the United Nations, because she was a woman and because her approach to development challenged many of her colleagues’ ways of working. The risk of bureaucratic sabotage was occasionally present: once, Drs. Snyder and his team had returned from a trip that their office had been moved to a different building, a room without a phone line.

    But she could take some comfort in the long view: by 2021, women will become an important part of the professional staff of the United Nations and women’s issues, including development, will remain one of the organization’s focal points.

    “Through all the administrative issues, we were reminded that working to empower the poorest women was a threat to some high level and powerful people,” she wrote in 2020. “They could move us, but they couldn’t stop us.”

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