Storie dal Portogallo

CAROLINA BEATRIZ ÂNGELO (1878 – 1911)

Beatriz Ângelo fu pioniera su più fronti: fece parte del primo gruppo di donne a difendere la parità di diritti e doveri tra uomini e donne; fu la prima donna dell’Europa occidentale a votare; fu la prima donna a eseguire un intervento chirurgico e fu la prima femminista portoghese, e l’unica del suo tempo, a sostenere il servizio militare obbligatorio per le donne.

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Nata a Guarda, una cittadina di campagna del Portogallo, si laureò in medicina nel 1902 per diventare così il secondo medico donna portoghese. Nello stesso anno, fu il primo medico portoghese ad eseguire un intervento chirurgico presso l’Hospital de S. José di Lisbona, sotto la guida di Miguel Bombarda, medico, scienziato, professore e repubblicano, figura di spicco dell’epoca. Dal 1906 Carolina partecipò a comitati e associazioni legate alle idee repubblicane. Fu un membro della Massoneria e fondatrice di Women’s Studies. Divenne leader della Lega repubblicana delle donne portoghesi, dopo aver cucito insieme ad Adelaide la bandiera della Repubblica issata il 5 ottobre 1910. Fino a quell’anno il Portogallo era una monarchia. Il 28 maggio 1911 si svolsero in Portogallo le prime elezioni per la costituzione dell’Assemblea nazionale. Carolina si iscrisse subito come votante dopo aver studiato la legge che era stata appena formulata sulla base delle idee rivoluzionarie. In quella legge non trovava alcun riferimento esplicito al sesso degli elettori. Le fu negato il diritto di voto. Quindi, decise di portare il caso in tribunale due volte rivendicando i suoi diritti. Vinse la causa sostenendo che il codice elettorale attribuiva il diritto di voto a “tutti i portoghesi di età superiore ai ventuno anni, che il 1° maggio” (1911), erano “residenti nel territorio nazionale”, che sapevano “leggere e scrivere” ed erano “capofamiglia”. Ebbene, era cittadina portoghese, vedova e madre, capofamiglia e sapeva anche leggere e scrivere, era ginecologa. Nel giorno stabilito, accompagnata da dieci compagne dell’Associazione Femminista di Propaganda che vollero testimoniare in prima persona, Carolina Beatriz Ângelo andò a votare. Una folla di curiosi le attendeva alla porta del Clube Estefânia, tanto che i volontari della polizia decisero di presidiare il luogo così come i giornalisti che, alle nove del mattino, erano già lì. Quello era proprio un momento da non perdere. Quando Carolina arrivò, non la fecero entrare. Solo gli uomini potevano votare. Tuttavia, Carolina poté votare, diventando così la prima donna votante del Portogallo e dell’Europa occidentale. La politica era una questione maschile. Morì pochi mesi dopo all’età di soli 33 anni. Tre anni dopo, i legislatori della neonata Repubblica portoghese modificarono la legge che escludeva le donne dal diritto di voto. Ci vollero 63 anni e una rivoluzione per dichiarare il suffragio universale in Portogallo.

ADELAIDE CABETE (1867 – 1935)

Adelaide de Jesus Damas Brazão nacque ad Alcáçovas, una cittadina di campagna al confine con la Spagna in una famiglia operaia. Si sposò all’età di 18 anni con un uomo di 36 anni, Manuel Ramos Fernandes Cabete, sergente autodidatta, tutore di latino e greco, che la incoraggiò e accompagnò nei suoi studi. Adelaide completò la scuola elementare all’età di 22 anni, finì il liceo all’età di 29 anni e si laureò in medicina a 33 anni.

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“La tutela delle donne incinte povere come mezzo per favorire lo sviluppo fisico delle nuove generazioni”, fu il titolo della sua tesi di laurea. Adelaide propose la formulazione della legge che avrebbe consentito alle lavoratrici di riposare durante l’ultimo mese di gravidanza, ricevendo un sussidio. Propose inoltre la creazione di reparti maternità, asili nido, orfanotrofi, istituzioni di solidarietà sociale. Promosse i primi congressi abolizionisti sulla prostituzione, e organizzò in Portogallo le famose Leghe di gentilezza, un’opera volontaria di assistenza sociale diretta da donne.

Politicamente repubblicana impegnata, convinta e femminista, sviluppò un’intensa attività militante a favore dell’instaurazione di quel regime politico e per la dignità della condizione femminile. Nel 1909 partecipò alla fondazione della Lega repubblicana delle donne portoghesi. L’organizzazione si scisse nel maggio 1911 dando vita all’Associazione di Propaganda Femminista in Portogallo (1911-1918) che era di natura massonica. Partecipò al Congresso femminista di Gant (1913) e fu membro del Consiglio nazionale delle donne portoghesi (CNMP), l’organizzazione femminista più duratura del XX secolo (1914-1947), in Portogallo. Fu anche presidente della National Women’s Crusade, frutto della mobilitazione dei repubblicani con la dichiarazione dello stato di guerra nel marzo 1916, per dare sostegno materiale e morale alle combattenti e alle loro famiglie. Il femminismo alleggerì parzialmente i suoi sforzi pacifisti. Vedeva la guerra come un’opportunità per mostrare il valore delle donne. Rappresentò il governo portoghese al 1° Congresso Femminista Internazionale (1923), che si svolse in Italia. Come Presidente della Crociata Nazionale per le Donne Portoghesi, organizzò il 1° Congresso Femminista ed Educazione (1924) a Lisbona. A questo congresso presentò anche un progetto pedagogico sulla lotta antialcolica nelle scuole. Questa fu una pietra miliare importante nell’istruzione in Portogallo. In rappresentanza del governo portoghese, partecipò al congresso del Consiglio internazionale delle donne a Washington nel 1925. Collaborò alla stampa femminista dell’epoca, in particolare alla rivista Alma Feminina, che diresse anche (1920-1929).

Delusa dalla nuova situazione politica del paese conseguente all’imposizione della dittatura dell’Estado Novo (1926), partì per l’Angola, dove si dedicò principalmente alla medicina. Adelaide Cabete è stata la prima e l’unica donna a votare a Luanda, dove viveva, secondo la nuova Costituzione portoghese.

Gerda Taro
1910 - 1937

Pioneer of war photography
Gerda Taro, nee Gerta Pohorylle, was born in Stuttgart and educated in Leipzig, Germany. As she is from a Jewish family, she flees from the Nazis to Paris in 1933. There she lives a bohemian lifestyle with her friend Ruth Cerf and eventually meets Endre Ernő Friedmann, better known today as Robert Capa. Together, they start documenting the Spanish Civil War in 1935, after Gerda had invented their alter egos in order to better sell Endre's and her own pictures. Inspired by their own political convictions, they only take pictures of the the fight of the republican troops against the rebellious franquist troops. Both of them try to be as close to the action as possible - a goal which eventually led to Gerda's death. Despite the fact that her pictures only cover 1 year of the war, her pictures are those that went around the world. Together with Robert Capa and with David Seymour, she developed modern war photography as we know it today during this short period of time. Since she officially was Capa's agent and he sold many of her pictures as his own, it took until the 2000s until people began to recognize her as an artist in her own right rather than only his partner: In 2007, the so-called Mexican Suitcase was found in Mexico City, a suitcase containing thousands of negatives believed lost by Capa, Taro and Seymour. Since then, many photographs originally attributed to Capa are known to have been taken by Gerda. However, during her short life, Taro was well known and when she was killed in 1937 by a tank, - she was only 26 - thousands of people attended her funeral in Paris. The funeral procession, led by Pablo Neruda and Louis Aragon, became a demonstration against fascism.

Marie-Claire Chevalier
1955 - 2022

The one whose trial for illegal abortion changed the law against abortion in France
In 1971, Marie-Claire Chevalier was 16 years old when she became pregnant after being raped by a boy two years older than her in high school. The young woman asked her mother to help her have an abortion. The mother turned to an underground doctor, but her daughter suffered a hemorrhage that forced her to the hospital. Her rapist, arrested for stealing a car, decides to turn her in against his own freedom. She is directly accused, as are four other women, including her mother, because in 1971 the voluntary termination of a pregnancy was illegal in France and punishable by six months to two years in prison. She was then convicted at the Bobigny trial and all were defended by lawyer Gisèle Halimi. Gisèle Halimi made of this trial and of Marie-Claire Chevalier a political symbol for the right to abortion. The case will forever mark French history and symbolize real progress for women's rights. Extremely mediatized, the trial closely followed by many personalities ends on a brilliant victory. Three years later this judgement, things started to move. This event contributed to the adoption of the Veil law and the legalization of abortion in France in 1975.

Having suffered greatly from this trial, she attempted suicide. Then, she chose to return to anonymity by changing her name. At her death, she received tributes from the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron and feminist associations.

Maria Lejárraga
1874 – 1974

She was writing and her husband harvesting the glory, fame and money!
Writer, feminist, deputy, polyglot and socialist who opposed to the death penalty and legal prostitution. She advocated for education, work and equal rights for women in Spain. A very open-minded and visionary woman who had to pay a high price imposed by her gender.

María Lejárraga comes from the region of La Rioja from an economically stable middle class family. She was able to receive good education and became a teacher. During her teaching career she discovered her passion for writing. She was very talented and ready to share her ideas and stories with the world. But, that´s where she bumped into a big obstacle. At the beginning of the XX century being a female writer was seen as immoral work, especially for an educator. If she had risked meeting her goals, she could have lost her teaching job. She found a solution to this problem in her marriage by publishing her works under her husband's name. So, she was writing and waiting at home and he was the one receiving praise and applause at the premiers of the plays. Before dying, her husband confirmed the rumours circulating in theatre circles that she was the true author of his works.
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Maria Lejárraga
1874 – 1974

She was writing and her husband harvesting the glory, fame and money!
Writer, feminist, deputy, polyglot and socialist who opposed to the death penalty and legal prostitution. She advocated for education, work and equal rights for women in Spain. A very open-minded and visionary woman who had to pay a high price imposed by her gender.

María Lejárraga comes from the region of La Rioja from an economically stable middle class family. She was able to receive good education and became a teacher. During her teaching career she discovered her passion for writing. She was very talented and ready to share her ideas and stories with the world. But, that´s where she bumped into a big obstacle. At the beginning of the XX century being a female writer was seen as immoral work, especially for an educator. If she had risked meeting her goals, she could have lost her teaching job. She found a solution to this problem in her marriage by publishing her works under her husband's name. So, she was writing and waiting at home and he was the one receiving praise and applause at the premiers of the plays. Before dying, her husband confirmed the rumours circulating in theatre circles that she was the true author of his works.
continue reading

Maria Lejárraga
1874 – 1974

She was writing and her husband harvesting the glory, fame and money!
Writer, feminist, deputy, polyglot and socialist who opposed to the death penalty and legal prostitution. She advocated for education, work and equal rights for women in Spain. A very open-minded and visionary woman who had to pay a high price imposed by her gender.

María Lejárraga comes from the region of La Rioja from an economically stable middle class family. She was able to receive good education and became a teacher. During her teaching career she discovered her passion for writing. She was very...
continue reading