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The Death of Margaret C. Snyder and What It Means to Feminists Around the World

Margaret C. Snyder, also known as the “U.N.’s first feminist”, died on Jan. 26 at the age of 91. Known by the nickname of Peg, she was the founding director of UN Women, an entity dedicated to gender equality and empowerment of women.


Peg’s activist work started when she was invited by the Kenya African Women’s Association to help assist women in Kenya. After a year with the association, she decided to give up her position at Le Moyne College in Syracuse to stay in Africa.


In 1971, she joined the United Nations as a regional adviser for the Economic Commission for Africa. There, she worked with data about women to include an entire geographical region. Through her work, she also provided opportunities for women to improve economically through a series of activities. 


Later, in 1978, she became the first director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), later renamed UN Women. As the director of UNIFEM, she expanded her work beyond Africa, reaching Asia, the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean.


Through UNIFEM, she was able to promote opportunities for women in developing countries to grow economically, along with promoting gender equality opportunities. Through many programs, she propagated the improvement of women’s lives around the world.


In her life, Peg also wrote several books such as, Transforming Development: Women, poverty and politics; Women in African Economies: From Burning Sun to Boardroom; and Above the Odds: A decade of change for Ugandan women entrepreneurs. All of them also highlighted the importance of economic development for women, with a special focus in Africa.


Now, Peg leaves a part of her legacy through UN Women. Currently, they work for many important rights for women such as leadership and political participation. Similar to the UN Women in Timor Lest in partnership with UNDP to provide support to a women’s parliamentary caucus, civil society groups and the national gender unit to promote women candidates. 


Another example of current work currently done by UN Women is the training provided in Albania to the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth. This training is on gender-responsive budgeting, which helped create employment qualification and education to women. 


The impact of Margaret C. Snyder extends beyond the obvious contribution she made to women around the world. Peg is also important for the positive representation she provides to young girls.


Female role models like Peg can inspire the next generation to achieve change. Having someone to look up to, someone who was not afraid of starting new things and act in favor of those in need, is inspiring to the new generation. 


By being a woman and a great advocate for women empowerment, Peg is relatable to any young girls who want to be part of the change. Being able to see the success of someone else is extremely important for young girls. Having someone as outspoken and goal-driven as Snyder can inspire young girls to speak up about matters that mean to them.


So thank you, Peg, for your legacy.

Renata is from Amazonas, Brazil, and studies international politics and broadcast journalism at Penn State. Her hobbies include reading and writing, editing pictures, and dancing for fun. She likes to learn new languages, currently speaks four, and is trying to learn a fifth. Fun fact: she wrote a book, but let’s not talk about that.
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