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360 NĂDEJDE, Sofia (1856–1946) Romanian writer, publicist, editor of militant journals, translator and model woman-citizen who fought for women’s rights for almost five decades. Sofia Băncilă was born in 1856 in the city of Botoşani (northern Moldavia), at that time a Russian protectorate still formally under Ottoman suzerainty. Her family were răzeşi (free peasants); her parents were Vasile Băncilă Gheorghiu and Puheria-Profira Neculce (data unknown ). In 1874, at the age of just eighteen , Sofia married Ion (Ioan) Nădejde (1854–1928), a well-known socialist, lawyer , writer and, between 1893 and 1899, one of the leaders of the Partidul Socialist Democrat al Muncitorilor din România (Socialist Democratic Party of Workers in Romania). The couple moved to Iaşi, the largest city in northern Moldavia, where they lived for twenty years before moving to Bucharest in 1894. Sofia Nădejde joined her husband’s activities in the socialist movement, first in Iaşi and then in Bucharest. During their stay in Iaşi, their six children (two boys and four girls) were born. Sofia Nădejde had attended both primary and secondary schools in her hometown of Botoşani and began publishing at the age of 23. In her countless articles, she demonstrated a remarkable political, scientific and literary erudition, which she had largely acquired through self-study. Her socialist and feminist ideas undoubtedly took shape during her first years in Iaşi, where she and her husband transformed their home into a meeting place for young intellectuals—men and women who wished to debate the possibility of change in their country. In 1879, she published a tough polemic in the journal Femeia română (The Romanian woman), edited by Maria Flechtenmacher. The article, entitled “Chestiunea femeilor” (The woman question), criticized the argument that women “are incapable of any development … that, no matter how much they try to develop their intellect, they will not succeed but rather, as civilization progresses … tend towards idiocy” (Nădejde 1879). After her marriage, Sofia Nădejde became involved in the socialist movement and participated in the development of the movement’s first political agendas, which included equal civil and political rights for women and men, equal pay for equal work and equal access of women and men to all professions. The latter program was adopted at 361 the Second Congress of the Socialist Party in 1894. Nădejde published many articles in socialist journals such as Basarabia (Basarabia), Munca (Work), Drepturile omului (Human rights), and Lumea nouă literară şi ştiinţifică (The new literary and scientific world). Her writings covered the evolution of the family, women’s role in the socialist movement, current prejudices regarding women’s education, social movements and women’s work in the countryside and in factories. They displayed a profound knowledge of the Western European scientific and philosophical discourses of her period, from John Stuart Mill, Herbert Spencer and Charles Darwin to Karl Marx and August Bebel. Sofia Nădejde was part of a group of socialist intellectuals in Iaşi who, between 1881 and 1891, published the newspaper Contemporanul (The contemporary), with a run of 4,500 copies (an unusually high number for any paper in Romania at that time, particularly for a left-wing publication). This paper became the arena in which Nădejde launched a veritable feminist campaign against the then widespread argument of women’s alleged ‘smaller brains’ (used to ‘prove’ that women were unable to attain high spiritual planes and that they should not participate in politics). Nădejde had a particularly heated debate with the prominent intellectual Titu Maiorescu. On the basis of a sophisticated reading of the latest scientific discoveries in biology, anatomy and anthropology, Nădejde demonstrated that proportionally, women’s brains were actually larger than men’s. Her analysis turned from biology to the socially and politically pertinent factors that helped explain women’s state of inferiority: the social environment , prejudice, discriminatory laws and lack of an education commensurate with the needs of modern life. Nădejde presented the work of John Stuart Mill to the readers of Contemporanul (in particular his On the Subjection of Women, 1869), and used his arguments to advocate political and civil rights for women in Romania. During the early years of writing for Contemporanul, Nădejde also rallied women of diverse social backgrounds and from various associations, groups and clubs, to raise funds for women’s education and employment. After 1886, under the influence of...


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