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432 PI PIN ̧A, Berta (1883–1942) Latvian writer, editor, journalist; cofounder (1930) of the Latvijas Sieviešu organiza -ciju padome (Council of Latvian Women’s Organization); first woman to be elected to the Latvian Parliament (1931). Berta Pı-pin , a (born Ziemele) was born on 28 September 1883, in the parish of Code (Latvia). Her father, Jekabs Ziemelis , was an innkeeper and also a farmer, as was her mother Liza (born Kula). Berta Ziemele attended the state school in the parish of Misa and later, the Bekeris girls’ ‘preliminary gymnasium’ in the town of Bauska, which offered the first four grades of gymnasium proper. In 1901, she became a teacher and taught in Charkov (Ukraine). From 1904 to 1908, she studied speech therapy for disabled children at the clinic of Dr. Liebman in Berlin (Germany), later traveling to Switzerland and Russia to familiarize herself with educational issues in these countries. She returned to Latvia in 1910 to marry Ermanis Pipin ,š (d. 1927), a teacher, editor, writer and critic. They had two daughters, Biruta and Nora, and a son, Ja -nis. Berta Pı-pin , a followed political and social developments during the formation of the independent Republic of Latvia and from 1918, when Latvia became an independent state, she began actively participating in political and social activities. Explaining in an interview what had encouraged her to become a politician, she confided that it was the smile she saw on her husband’s face whenever she raised up her hand to tell him what she thought or what concerned her. “I swore that I would one day speak so well that no one would ever laugh at me” (Silvija 1933, 3). She helped found the Demokra -tiska - Centra Partija (Democratic Center Party), became a member of the Party Council and was the first of the Party women to be elected to its Central Committee. In 1919, she was elected to Riga City Council and worked on different Council committees until 1934. From 1925 to 1928, she headed the Council Department for the Destitute and, from 1928 to 1931, was a member of the Riga Audit Commission, whose task it was to monitor the work of the Riga municipality offices (and those subordinate to them). While working for the Riga City Council, she also advocated and helped introduce legal restrictions on public (drinking) houses. One of Pı-pin , a’s central concerns and a focus of her work was the situation of women and the family in 433 Latvia. She held lectures on these issues and wrote articles for newspapers and magazines , in addition to giving public lectures on national advancement and national culture in Riga and other Latvian towns. From 1922, Pı-pin , a began participating in the activities of the Latvju sieviešu naciona -la - lı-ga (Latvian Women’s National League/National Council of Women), formed in St Petersburg in 1917. In 1925, she became its President. The Latvju sieviešu naciona -la - lı-ga organized charity work, a kindergarten, Sunday school for children and library and evening courses for women. Women used the premises of the Lı-ga as a place where they could perform handicraft work and, in summer, attend needlework courses. In 1928, Pı-pin , a described the Lı-ga as bringing Latvian women together in the national spirit: it aimed to “support the tired and desperate spirit of refugees. The national word possesses magical power ... scattered Latvians must be united by the women of this nation through national ideals in different forms” (Rubina 1992, 169). In 1922, the Lı-ga became affiliated with the International Council of Women (ICW). Pı-pin , a became Vice-President of the ICW in 1936, but was apparently not re-elected in 1938. She took part in ICW congresses in Vienna (1930), Stockholm (1933), Paris (1934) and Dubrovnik (1936), and visited women’s groups in Russia, Hungary and Austria, among other countries. In 1930, Pı-pin , a was among the founders of the Latvijas Sieviešu organiza -ciju padome (Council of Latvian Women’s Organizations). An energetic, intelligent and ambitious woman, Pı-pin , a was elected onto the Board and appointed leader of the new organization, a position she retained until 1935. While the 1917 Lı-ga had focused on uniting and educating women in what it perceived to be ‘the national spirit,’ the 1930 Latvijas Sieviešu organiza -ciju padome was an umbrella organization: it united several organizations with the aim of fostering gender equality and increasing women’s...


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