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363 NEGRUZZI, Ella (1876–1948) Romanian liberal feminist and political activist in the National Peasant Party; first woman lawyer in Romania (1920); one of the first women representatives in the Bucharest city council after 1929. Born in Hermeziu, a village in the province of Moldavia (in the young Romanian Kingdom), Ella Negruzzi was the daughter of the writer Leon Negruzzi. Details of her mother are unknown. Intellectually prominent members of her family include her uncle, Iacob Negruzzi, a professor at the University of Iaşi and twice President of the Romanian Academy (1910–13 and 1923–26). After her father passed away prematurely, Iacob Negruzzi took charge of both Ella’s education and that of her brother, Mihai (who later became an army general). Ella Negruzzi was briefly married to, and later divorced Nicolae Beldiman. Given this illustrious intellectual background, it is unsurprising that Negruzzi was both academically gifted and professionally ambitious. She graduated from the University of Iaşi in philosophy, history and law. In 1913, Negruzzi became the first woman to attempt to register for the bar exam in Iaşi. When her request was rejected , she moved to Galaţi and attempted to take the bar there, with the support of a prominent local lawyer, Corneliu Botez (see also Calypso Botez). On her third attempt, in 1919, she was finally allowed to take the exam in Bucharest (Ilfov County). In 1920, Ella Negruzzi became the first woman to practice law in the capital. During World War I, Negruzzi participated directly in the war effort in Iaşi and across Moldova, working as a volunteer nurse at a hospital in the front lines. After 1918, she continued to support women’s education (especially in the countryside) and to work on behalf of women’s employment rights. She became particularly vocal from the mid-1930s when, in a desperate wave of measures to address the unemployment crisis, the liberal government launched a virulent campaign against employment rights for women, such as the right to paid work and to pension benefits . In a speech given at the 1934 Congress of the Asociaţia pentru emanciparea civilă şi politică a femeilor române (AECPFR, Association for the Civil and Political 364 Emancipation of Romanian Women), Negruzzi emphasized the double marginalization of women in the workforce: their limited possibilities for professional advancement and their relegation to first-in-the-firing-line positions in a given moment of crisis. By way of solutions to these problems, Negruzzi focused on private and rural sectors, suggesting the development of a network of rural vocational schools attached to cooperative enterprises. Negruzzi’s concern for women’s social welfare also led to a critique of prostitution . She pointed out the existence of a sexual double standard that helped perpetuate prostitution and argued that an environment of sexual permissiveness towards men increased the vulnerability of women, suggesting that prostitutes be helped, through education and rehabilitation, to enter other forms of employment. Negruzzi was as indefatigable a feminist in the political sphere as she was in her pursuit of law and in her endeavors to provide social assistance for women. In 1917, together with a number of other prominent feminists (such as Elena C. Meissner), she signed a petition demanding that the Senate grant women full civil and political rights. Though the response was resoundingly negative, Negruzzi never abandoned her resolutely suffragist position. In 1918, she helped found the AECPFR in Iaşi, which she led, together with Elena Meissner, throughout the interwar period. This suffragist group sought to counter prevailing prejudices against women’s emancipation and fought for the right of women to participate in any and all areas of public life, including politics, the professions and education. Within a year, AECPFR had branches in Bucharest, Cernăuţi, Brasov and Sibiu, among other places. Negruzzi remained active in the Bucharest branch after 1918. In the early 1920s, Negruzzi published prolifically and worked energetically to secure political rights for women in the new Constitution (passed in 1923). In the feminist debates over strategies for political empowerment (see also Elena Meissner and Alexandrina Cantacuzino), Negruzzi embraced the position taken by the AECPFR and insisted on women’s participation in existing political parties, rather than in a separate political bloc for women as Alexandrina Cantacuzino had suggested . Negruzzi became a member of the National Peasant Party and in 1929 participated in the first elections to allow women as candidates for local elections. She became one of the first group of...


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