Modern woman – the pursuit of equality

Workshop leaders: Ana Radaković(ISHA Belgrade) and Lucija Bakšić(ISHA Zagreb)

Male and female citizens, being equal in the eyes of the law, must be equally admitted to all honors, positions, and public employment according to their capacity and without other distinctions besides those of their virtues and talents.
Olympe de Gouges (1748-1793)

Although it is believed that the word féminisme was coined by Charles Fourier, French philosopher, in 1837, not until the 1870s and 1880s was this expression widely used in Western Europe for various movements promoting the equal contract, marriage, parenting and property rights for women. In the history of modern western feminism this is considered as the first “wave”. It was followed by the second wave at the beginning of the 1960s whose activists fought for legal and social equality for women. Finally, the 1990s provide a fertile soil for reactions to what is perceived as failures of the second-wave feminism and the third wave has started.

However, feminist advocacy existed long before terminology as itself and far away from the European continent. During the French Revolution in response to the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen one more document was published – the Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen (Déclaration des droits de la femme et de la citoyenne). Its author, Olympe de Gouges, was accused, tried and convicted of treason, resulting in her immediate execution, along with the Girondists in the Reign of Terror (one of only three women beheaded during the Reign of Terror – and the only executed for her political writings). Other example could be, for instance, Ching Shih, notorious pirate princess who was making troubles not only to Chinese, but also to British and Portuguese authorities in the early 19th century. Holding the leadership position of one of the largest fleets in Asia, this lady issued the code of laws where the special chapters about female captives were included. Similar cases could be found around the world.

Whether you are interested in suffragettes or other heroines of modern age who left the trace in women’s fight for rights and acceptance, feel free to send us your proposals. Stories about associations or individuals who had a goal of improving social and political status of women in your country or region are also more than welcome. Institutional or non-institutional struggles for gender equality are something we would like to hear more about. After all, feminist campaigns are considered to be some of the main forces behind the major historical changes.

Let us know more!!