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402 PARREN, Callirhoe (born Siganou) (1859–1940) Greek journalist and literary figure; editor of the Efimeris ton Kyrion (Ladies’ journal, 1887–1917); leader of collective action campaigns to improve the situation of Greek women. The first in Greece to elaborate ‘the woman question’ in terms of ‘emancipation;’ founder (1896) of the Enosis ton Ellinidon (Union of Greek Women) and (1911) of the Lykeion ton Ellinidon (Lyceum of Greek Women); actively involved in the work of the International Council of Women; President of the Greek section of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (affiliated to the WILPF in 1921). Callirhoe Parren was undoubtedly the first to introduce feminism to Greece, or rather a ‘moderate’ feminism (according to the poet Kostis Palamas); one which could adapt to the existing structures of Greek society at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries. Her rich, varied and untiring work in journalism and writing, as well as in the fields of education, philanthropy and social reform , her acquaintance with the intellectual ‘elite’ of the Greek capital, and the (often passionate) persistence with which she fought for her ideas established her as a leading public figure of her time and a privileged target of misogynist criticism and satire. Despite her public presence, mainstream historiography has systematically ignored Parren’s public action; on the other hand, little is known about her parents, siblings or other aspects of her private life (no personal archives have been found) and a reliable biography of Parren is still lacking. This entry is primarily concerned with features of her public life, increasingly a subject of interest in the historiography emerging from studies of women, feminism and gender in Greece. Callirhoe Siganou was born in 1859 in the Cretan village of Platania, not far from the city of Rethymno. The family was living in Rethymno when the outbreak of the Cretan revolution against Ottoman rule (1866–1869) radically altered the lives of its members. According to biographical information authored by Callirhoe herself, the revolution (in which her father, Stylianos Siganos, had participated) forced the family to abandon the island and begin a new life in Athens under significant financial strain. Parren recalled with gratitude how her father put the remaining financial resources of the family towards the education of his children. She wrote that her father’s example 403 taught her “to face life, not as a field of joy and pleasure, but as an arena of work and duty” (Parren 1909, 745–746). Callirhoe attended secondary-school level private classes and received a teaching qualification from Arsakeion, a private institution which trained female teachers through a system of scholarships supported by the government and the local authorities. In 1879, upon receiving her teaching certificate, Callirhoe Siganou worked for a short time as headmistress of the Kentrikon Parthenagogeion (Central Girls’ School) of the Greek diaspora in Adrianople and in Odessa at the Rodokanakeion Girls’ School, a salaried position funded by the Athenian Syllogos pros diadosin ton Ellinikon Grammaton (Association for the Diffusion of Greek Education ). Following her marriage to Ioannis (Jean) Parren, a journalist of Anglo-French descent from Constantinople (Istanbul)—later to become founder of the Athens News Agency—she moved to Athens. There, inspired by the journalistic milieu, Callirhoe Parren channeled what she called her “mania for writing” (Parren 1915, 2732–2734) into the cause of women’s emancipation through education and paid work. In 1887, Parren began publishing the Efimeris ton Kyrion (Ladies’ journal), which would soon function as an intellectual forum for scholarly women determined to occupy themselves systematically with ‘the cause.’ During its long life (it came out weekly from 1887 to 1907 and fortnightly from 1907 to 1917) and through a large network of subscribers and correspondents that extended beyond Greece to the Hellenic diaspora, the Efimeris ton Kyrion became the most successful journalistic venture of the time, held by women and devoted to the women’s cause. In her frequent articles in the Efimeris ton Kyrion, as well as in the periodical Estia (Hearth) and the newspaper To Asty (The city), Callirhoe Parren put forward the first coherent proposals for women’s emancipation in Greece. Giving priority to the civil and social rights of women, legitimized as specific duties towards the nation and civil society, Parren elaborated a feminine version of citizenship which redefined traditional gender roles within the framework of nationalist ideology. Parren’s proposal for women’s emancipation provoked an outcry at the end of the nineteenth...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9786155053726
Related ISBN
9789637326394
MARC Record
OCLC
868217084
Pages
698
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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