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76 BOTEZ, Calypso (1880–?) Leading member of several Romanian women’s organizations. Dominant figure in the interwar Romanian feminist movement . Member of the National Peasant Party. One of the first women representatives on the Bucharest city council after 1929. Born in 1880, in the Moldovan city of Bacău, Calypso Botez completed a course of study in history and philosophy at the University of Iaşi, going on to become Principal of the Lyceum for girls in Galaţi. There she married a prominent local lawyer, Corneliu Botez, an active supporter of women’s rights. During World War I, Calypso Botez was President of the Red Cross in Galaţi. In 1918, she helped found the Asociaţia pentru emanciparea civilă şi politică a femeilor române (AECPFR, Association for the Civil and Political Emancipation of Romanian Women) in Iaşi, remaining a leader of this organization after the war. After 1918, Botez became one of the leading members of several important women’s organizations, among them the Societatea Ortodoxă Naţională a Femeilor Române (SONFR, National Orthodox Society of Romanian Women), the Consiliul Naţional al Femeilor Române (CNFR, National Council of Romanian Women), as well as the intellectually prominent Institutul Social Român (Romanian Social Institute), which led reform and policy-making during the interwar period. As the founder of a section for women’s studies (“feminine studies”) within the Institutul Social Român, which lasted until the communist takeover, Botez helped bring visibility and intellectual viability to the debate over women’s enfranchisement and women’s civil equality. As part of a famous series of debates sponsored by this institute in 1921, Botez presented a sophisticated and forceful argument on behalf of women’s enfranchisement in an important public lecture on women’s rights and the Constitution, along the lines of the liberal philosophy of John Stuart Mill. Her arguments for the full political equality for women were based on the contention that women were already fully participating in public/national life. Although she couched her polemic in the nationalist discourse of her day, Botez was unmistakably a liberal feminist first and a nationalist second. 77 And yet Botez did not join the National Liberal Party, preferring to become active in, and politically committed to the National Peasant Party—a pragmatic rather than an ideological choice. Despite its name, the National Liberal Party had very little in common with liberal ideas regarding gender equality and during the debates over the Constitution, to which Botez contributed with her powerful plea for women’s enfranchisement , several members of the National Liberal Party spoke out against extending full political rights to women. The only political party with a (limited) progressive agenda regarding women’s rights was the National Peasant Party. After coming to power in 1929, the National Peasant Party allowed women to vote in local and municipal (but not national) elections. Botez participated as a candidate for the municipal council in Bucharest and became one of the first women to sit on that body. In her capacity as a member of the Bucharest municipal council, Botez worked tirelessly to protect and improve employment opportunities for young women, especially on behalf of recent migrants from the villages. Like other activists, Botez was concerned about the social and personal vulnerability of these young women, who often became prey to abusive work and personal relationships. In particular, she helped found several training schools for young female workers, such as the ‘Vojvode Radu’ home economics school (named after a Wallachian ruler), which helped orphans acquire skills for gainful employment. She pursued this interest in the protection of women workers by participating in international conferences organized by the International Woman Suffrage Alliance /International Alliance of Women for Suffrage and Equal Citizenship in Rome (1923), Paris (1926), Berlin (1929) and Istanbul (1935), and traveling abroad to the League of Nations in Geneva. In addition, she regularly published articles on the protection of women at work, both in Romania and for the League of Nations, in the bulletin of the CNFR and in the prominent social science journal, Arhiva pentru reforma şi ştiinţa socială (Archive for social science and reform). In the interwar period, Botez was a dominant figure in the Romanian feminist movement, an intellectual leader known for her astute and sophisticated analyses of women’s movements abroad, and persuasive arguments vis-à-vis her Romanian audiences . Her 1920 study, Problema feminismului. O sistematizare a elementelor ei (The problem of feminism. A systematization...


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