restricted access SZNARKIEWICZ, Nadzeja (born Kaladzianka) (1897–1974)
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567 SZNARKIEWICZ, Nadzeja (born Kaladzianka) (1897–1974) Belarussian social and cultural activist, teacher and ethnographer. Co-founder (1931) of the Ab’jadnanne belaruskih zhanchyn imya Alaizy Pashkievich (Alaiza Pashkevich Belarussian Women’s Organization); co-founder and editor-in-chief of the short-lived magazine Zhanotskaya sprava (Women’s cause). Nadzeja Kaladzianka was born on 30 September (12 October) 1897 in Brest. Her father died when she was seven years old, after which her mother moved with her to the village of Wostrawa near Kobryn, and then to Pruhzany. In 1914, Nadzeja graduated from Pruzhany women’s gymnasium and, in 1919, after completing courses in pedagogy (the only post-secondary education course available to women in the Russian Empire), she qualified as a teacher. She had already been working as a teacher of boys and girls in Pruzhany County, in the years 1914 to 1915. By the summer of 1915, the ravages of World War I had left Nadzeja a refugee on the Russian Volga. In 1921, after she had returned home (in 1919), western Belarus was incorporated into Poland (in accordance with the Treaty of Riga) and the Belarussians, whose language had earlier been outlawed in the Russian Empire, became an ethnic minority in Poland. They were urged to switch to the Polish language under political (and often police) pressure and issues of national language and education grew increasingly politicized as they were directly related to the issue of the legitimacy of the Belarussian people. From 1925, Nadzeja Kaladzianka lived and worked in Wilno (now Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania) as the head of a dormitory run by the Wilno Belarussian Gymnasium, actively participating in the cultural, educational and social initiatives of the Belarussian School Association (a civic organization for the promotion of the Belarussian language). In 1926, she married Yazep Sznarkiewicz (1888–1974), a political and cultural activist in western Belarus and also a teacher. In 1931, Nadzeja Sznarkiewicz co-founded the Ab’jadnanne belaruskih zhanchyn imya Alaizy Pashkievich (Alaiza Pashkevich Belarussian Women’s Organization), named after Alaiza Pashkevich (Tsiotka), a famous Belarussian poet (died 1916). The organization, though short-lived, aimed to “socially and nationally unite conscious Belarussian women” [Zhanotskaya sprava (Women’s cause) 1931, no. 1]. Sznarkiewicz was one of the founders and the editor-in-chief of Zhanotskaya sprava, the first independent women’s magazine in the Belarussian language. The intellectual women who had set up the magazine saw their task as one of raising the national consciousness of Belarussian peasant women and uniting them through socially meaningful activities (civic activism). In addition to pieces on national culture, the magazine advised its female readers in matters concerning social life, the upbringing of children and housekeeping. It addressed itself primarily to rural women, since historically most Belarussians lived in villages (the towns of the region were multi-ethnic), and hoped to 568 stimulate broad cultural and educational outreach work through publications in the national language, lecturing and club or association activities. The first issue of Zhanotskaya sprava opened with a manifesto: “To the Belarussian Women.” Outlining some of the issues that Sznarkiewicz considered important for women as ‘national’ wives and mothers, it read (in part): Even today in the countryside, mothers often see their daughters’ schooling as a useless waste of time: “they are going to get married anyway, so what is the use of this education?”—they say. Yet it is precisely because women run everything in the family that a woman’s education is so important. She is the mother, the teacher of her children, and they [children] are the future of our people. Their whole lives often depend on what a mother has put into their heads when they were young. And isn’t it clear to everyone that joy and agreement rule in the household of a clever woman and permanent disarray where the mistress is ignorant, undeveloped and unable to establish order in her household. One should not tolerate these superstitions of ancient peasant ignorance, and we, Belarussian women, will fight them and unite to make better lives for ourselves, to make this life more bearable and joyful. Zhanotskaya sprava was published once a month in Wilno from March to November 1931, when it stopped due to lack of funding. Nadzeja Sznarkiewicz continued to teach. In 1939, western Belarus was incorporated into the Belarussian Soviet Socialist Republic. For the last 25 years of her life, Nadzeja Sznarkiewicz was crippled by paralysis but remained socially active all the same. She edited her husband...


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