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144 GALDIKIENĖ, Magdalena (1891–1979) Teacher and leader of the Lietuviu ˛ katalikiu ˛ moteru ˛ draugija (Lithuanian Catholic Women’s Organization); editor of Moteris (Woman); member of the Lithuanian Parliaments (1920–1926). Pseudonyms: ‘Feminist ’ and ‘Mokytoja M. D.’ (Teacher M[agdalena] D[raugelyte]). Magdalena Galdikienė (maiden name Draugelytė) was born on 26 September 1891 in the village of Bardauskai, in Vilkavi škis County. Her father, Petras Draugelis (1849–1914), was a primary school teacher who illegally distributed Lithuanian books (Lithuanian Latin script books were prohibited by the tsarist regime from 1864 to 1904). Her mother (little data available) gave birth to twelve children of which only seven reached adulthood. Magdalena was one of the younger siblings , influenced not only by her parents, but also by her older brothers and her sister, Apolonija Draugelyte-Cemarkiene. Magdalena attended the girls’ gymnasium in Marijampole. She graduated in 1910, and immediately went on to teach at the Lithuanian school in Liepaja, taking up a new post at the Obeliai Girls’ Farming School a year later. In this way, she managed to earn a living independently while saving for her studies. In 1912, she enrolled at the Higher Pedagogy School in St Petersburg, graduating in 1915. In 1917, after having worked as a teacher in a number of educational establishments across Russia, she married Adomas Galdikas (1893–1969), who would become a celebrated Lithuanian painter. They formed a happy couple and had no children. By 1918, they had returned to Lithuania, to the city of Kaunas; life in the Soviet Union was becoming dangerous and both wished to contribute to social and political developments in the newly established Lithuanian State. From 1923 to 1940, Magdalena Galdikienė was head of the Gymnasium of the Holy Christ’s Heart Congregation, where she also taught German . Galdikienė was already involving herself in public activities by the early age of fourteen , when she organized discussion groups at her school on issues related to the Lithuanian culture and language. She came to see a value in special organizations for Magdalena Galdikienė, between 1931 and 1935 145 women and, after the Lietuviu ˛ katalikiu ˛ moteru ˛ draugija (LKMD, Lithuanian Catholic Women’s Organization) had been founded in 1908, helped her sister organize a local Marijampole LKMD branch the same year. Later, in St Petersburg, she led the Ateitininkai (People of the Future), a Catholic Lithuanian youth group whose credo was “to renew everything in Christ.” In 1919, she became the elected head of the LKMD, which she led with only one brief interruption until the suppression of the organization in 1940. In addition to organizing women of the towns, she was especially interested in drawing lower-class Lithuanian women from the countryside into the LKMD, which, under her guidance, grew to 410 branches and united 42,000 members. For ten years, Galdikienė edited the first women’s newspaper in Lithuania, Moteris (Woman), the newspaper of the LKMD. In 1940, the publication reached subscription rates of eighteen thousand in a population of just two to three million. Galdikienė emphasized women’s important role in promoting ‘Lithuanian’ and ‘Catholic’ virtues, for which task they had to organize for empowerment through professional work, an independent income and participation in public/national life—the last was essential if women were to defend their interests as Catholic/Lithuanian mothers. Magdalena Galdikienė’s political career began in 1919, when she was elected onto the Board of the Kaunas Municipality. She was an advocate of Christian democratic values and, as a member of the Christian Democratic Party, was elected to all four democratically elected Parliaments between 1920 and 1926. She worked on parliamentary commissions on education, social security policy and public libraries. In 1922, Galdikienė was one of four female Catholic Members of Parliament to initiate changes to the old civil code. The new code, effective from 1922, eliminated most civil legal inequalities, including those in inheritance law whereby daughters inherited less than sons. In 1925, Galdikienė was elected the Secretary of Parliament and in 1926, the second Vice-Chairperson. In her parliamentary speeches, she advocated separate education for girls and boys but insisted on equal school syllabi. Later, she suggested that women be granted eight weeks of paid maternity leave and that widows be provided with state pensions. In 1926, the government decided to issue a law allowing only one spouse to be employed in the civil service, effectively sacking all women civil servants whose husbands also worked for state institutions. Galdikienė gave a highly animated speech defending women’s employment...


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