Indian freedom Fighter Dr Hansa Jivraj Mehta was responsible for a crucial amendment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948 which lead to a wider and more acceptable phrasing of the Declaration.
Appointed as India’s representative to the United Nations Humans Rights Commission, Dr Hansa sought an amendment to Article 1 of the UDHR, which stated, “All men are born free and equal.” After her recommendation, Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was revised to “All human beings are born free and equal.”
In 2015, former UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon said, “The world can thank a daughter of India, Dr Hansa Mehta, for replacing the phrase in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).”
The Center for Soft Power invites research into the life and work of Dr Hansa Mehta, and the different events that led to her asserting a change in the UN document. She was part of a discourse on gender equality for the shaping of the Indian constitution by the Constituent Assembly between 1946 and 1949.
Responding to a statement on the Constitution not having a separate provision for women, Dr Hansa stated, “The world would have thought very little of the men if they had asked for protection against women in this Constitution; I am very happy to see that the Constitution does not include that provision. Otherwise, men would have had to hide their faces before the world.”
Before the Constituent Assembly, she was a member of the All India Women’s Conference, and was involved in the setting up of Lady Irvin College in New Delhi, a women’s college for home science, educational research and teacher training.
CSP invites research toward the publishing of a monograph on the life and work of Hansa Mehta, the lady who shaped the gender discourse of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Interested research students and scholars may send the statement of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org. Remuneration will be discussed and finalized with the selected Scholar.