8th March 2022 by

International Women’s Day 8 March

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is that it is the International Day to End Violence against Women. We must #ENDviolence!

It offers an opportunity to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.

Just a few influential French women over history

Joan of Arc (by Dante Gabriel Rossetti)
As a national heroine and the patron saint of France, Joan of Arc has been inspirational to many historical French figures. Fearless in her stance against the English, Joan led the French army into a victorious battle during the 100 Years War. However, the English captured the brave young Joan and she was burned at the stake, becoming a martyr for France in the process. Joan of Arc has since become a ubiquitous character in French performing arts and literature.

Olympia De Gougues (1748-1793) This highly political French playwright and activist was an outspoken advocate for improving the conditions of slaves in colonies. Stubborn in her conviction that women should hold the same rights as men, she wrote the influential text Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen. She was executed during the Reign of Terror for attacking the government. De Gouges was an integral figure in the progress of human rights.

George Sand (1804-1876) was a French novelist and essayist who scandalized the public when she began to wear male clothing and smoke in public. Rebellious in her male dress, Sand was able to circulate freely in Paris, which gave her increased access to venues that banned women. The political entrepreneur founded her own socialist newspaper and wrote many novels which argued in favour of women’s equality. Sand is famous for declaring ‘You can bind my body, tie my hands, govern my actions: you are the strongest, and society adds to your power; but with my will, sir, you can do nothing.

Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986)

Widely famous for her groundbreaking feminist treatise The Second Sex, de Beauvoir uprooted the sexism that dominated society in the 20th century. This 1949 book was considered so scandalous that the Vatican went so far as to put the book in the Index of Prohibited Books. De Beauvoir’s writings and contributions laid the foundation for future feminist movements of the 1960s and 1970s.

NB International Men’s Day is on 19 November 2022

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