Thematic exhibition

Feminism in Greece

200 years of women's rights struggle in Greece
Gathering and march of women,  Αφοι Φλώρου (Φωτορεπορτάζ Αθηναϊκου Τύπου), CC BY-SA 4.0
OTE Group Telecommunications Museum

The path of women’s emanicipation towards having basic rights, such as voting, education or the right of abortion, has not been easy nor painless.

After the founding of the new Greek state and while known and unknown Greek women participated in the liberation struggle, Greek society regresses back to deep-rooted traditions for the role of women. The right to education is the first step of the proto-feminist movement, led by the charismatic Kallirroi Parren, who since 1887 has been publishing the magazine "The Ladies' Gazette" giving voice to the basic demands of the time, the right to work and the full right to education. Misogyny was rampant at the time - it is rumored that the intellectual Emmanuel Roidis wrote that "two professions are suitable for women: housewife and prostitute". On the other hand, progressive scholars of the time, such as Palamas, Xenopoulos, Karkavitsas and Rangavis express their sympathy for the women’s struggle.

In the interwar period, the "Association for the Rights of Women" was founded, a militant group of educated women, which provide education, training and vocational training to the "women of the people". Avra Theodoropoulou, Maria Desypri-Svolou, Roza Imbrioti, Eleni Ourani (writing under male pen-name “Alkis Thrylos”) and Anna Papadimitriou engage in an unprecedented activism for the time by publishing magazines, writing articles and open letters to Parliament campaigning for equality at work and in education. They founded numerous vocational training schools for women while publishing the publication "The Women's Struggle" which reflects the positions of the Association for Women's Rights and its claims.

In 1930, the political leadership, after pressure from the feminist movement, is forced to implement a law that had been passed since 1925 and to grant women the right to vote, however for municipal elections only and on the following conditions: that they are over 30 years of age and literate. And while in 1944, during the Resistance Government, women vote and are elected for a "National Council", their legal right to vote and the right to be elected officially are recognized in 1952. During the Junta years everything freezes, since women's organizations are banned and many of their archives are destroyed.

In the 70s a new radical movemen emerged, called neo-feminism, campaigning for issues to do with the female body, the right of abortion, domestic violence, gender issues and women at work. The first lesbian magazine is published, "LAVRYS - Women's Speech and Antilog", a quarterly edition that costs 100 drachmas and states on the front page: "No matter how much they buried us, we will rise again and again in the centuries".

The socialist government of Andreas Papandreou signs, in 1983 the UN "Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women". And while women in Greece are now ostensibly supported by the legislative and state framework, pay and leadership inequalities continue to prevail and pressure is mounting to balance family and work roles successfully. In recent years, the #MeToo movement reigns in the public space, a global social movement against sexual abuse and sexual harassment, as well as abuse of any kind in the workplace, on the street and in the digital public space, which in Greece culminates in 2020.

"I am happy and now I can rest. I feel that I am leaving a lush vegetation, the seeds of which we, the few pioneers sowed in the barren and stony land. I am sure that from you the perfect woman of tomorrow will be created." Kallirroi Parren