restricted access BOJADJIEVA NASTEVA-RUSINSKA, Kostadina (1880–1932)
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66 BOJADJIEVA NASTEVA-RUSINSKA, Kostadina (1880–1932) Macedonian intellectual and revolutionary, supporter of social democracy and its ideas regarding women’s equality; pioneer of the Macedonian women’s movement; leader of the women’s society Uspenie Bogorodichno (Virgin Mary’s Assumption). Kostadina Bojadjieva was born in Ohrid in 1880, the only child of Eftim Nastev Bojadjiev, a wealthy Orthodox Christian merchant from Ohrid. Her mother probably died very young (no data on her exists). Kostadina completed her primary education in Ohrid and her secondary education in Bulgaria, teaching at a primary school for boys and girls in Ohrid from around the turn of the century. In the late nineteenth century, an intellectual elite developed in Macedonia in which female teachers played an important role. Teaching was the most socially acceptable profession for women, especially if they were single. Many young female teachers adopted socialist ideas, including Kostadina Bojadjieva. The program of the Social Democrats was the only one to include the emancipation of women in its agenda, making their party—established on the territory of Macedonia in 1893— attractive to women. As members of the Socialist Party and the Macedonian intelligentsia (which also played a major role in the national liberation movement), women such as Kostadina Bojadjieva were able to establish international contacts. Literature on the French Revolution, human rights and the European social democratic movement came to Macedonia via Thessaloniki and greatly influenced both the female intelligentsia and the women’s emancipation movement. Numerous women’s societies and organizations were established in the mid-nineteenth century, many of them led by female teachers—including the Kostursko zensko drustvo (Kostur Women’s Association); the Tajno zensko drustvo (Secret Women’s Association), founded in Struga; the Zensko drustvo (Women’s Association), founded in Krusevo before the Ilinden uprising; the Tajno zensko drustvo (Secret Women’s Association), founded in Bitola and the Zensko biblisko drustvo (Women’s Biblical Association), founded in Bansko by the Protestant Mission of American missionary Helen Stone. Since Macedonians had the status of raya (Christian subjects with no rights) in the Ottoman Empire, the agenda of the Macedonia female intelligentsia focused on women’s and national emancipation. Such women joined the Tajna makedonsko-odrinska revolucionerna organizacija (TMORO, Clandestine Macedonian-Odrin Revolutionary Organization ), established in 1893, which adopted socialist ideas on the emancipation of women and organized the Ilinden uprising against the Ottoman Empire (2 August– November 1903). Ohrid, Kostadina Bojadjieva’s native town, is famous for its tradition in education. It was here that St. Kliment Ohridski (St. Clement of Ohrid, app. 830/840–27 July 916), disciple of the saints Cyril and Method, established the Ohrid Literary School 67 (after 886), which played a key role in spreading literacy among the Slavs. In the spirit of this tradition, female teachers from Ohrid in 1885 established the women’s society, the Uspenie Bogorodichno (Virgin Mary’s Assumption), better known as the Nedelno uchilishte (Sunday School). The Uspenie Bogorodichno aimed to provide material assistance and education to the poor, especially women. It organized weekly literacy classes and lectures on emancipation, drawing upon the slogan “when we liberate Macedonia, women will enjoy the same rights” (Rusinski 1997, 194). In the fall of 1900, the Uspenie Bogorodichno joined the revolutionary national movement TMORO, then in the process of preparing for the uprising. Kostadina Bojadjieva led the Uspenie Bogorodichno from 1901 until the end of 1903. Vasilka Razmova, Klio Samardjieva, Atina Shahova, Poliksena Manasieva, Maria Parmakova and other female teachers from Ohrid were among the members of the Uspenie Bogorodichno. In his Spomeni (Memoirs), Kostadina Bojadjieva’s husband (Nikola Rusinski) recalled an anecdote from a conference of the TMORO in Ohrid on 14 November 1901, at which, while discussing current issues, “one of the participants jokingly asked ‘And women; what rights shall we give them tomorrow, after Macedonia’s liberation?’ This friend had most probably read August Bebel’s Zenata: nejzinoto minato, segasnost i idnina [Woman: her past, present and future] and wanted to make a joke, failing to understand the deeper meaning. I told him that women were an inseparable part of humanity, bearing all the difficulties of family life together with men. As a mother, an educator and a housewife, a woman carries a greater burden than a man in today’s capitalist society, which has two dictums: rights for men and no rights for women. In our organization’s fight for liberation, a woman is not treated unequally. She participates and sacrifices as we do and is entitled to...