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436 PLAMĺNKOVÁ, Františka F. (1875–1942) Czech teacher and leading feminist; founder (1923) and Chairwoman of the Czechoslovak National Council of Women; member of the Senate of the Czechoslovak National Assembly; longtime Vice-President of the International Alliance of Women for Suffrage and Equal Citizenship (IAWSEC) and the International Council of Women (ICW) in the interwar years. Františka Plamínková was born on 5 February 1875 in Prague, a descendant of farmers and weavers in Podkrkonoší, a district in the north of Bohemia. Her mother was Marie Plamínková, born Gruberová; her father, František Plam ínek, had attended a craft school in Prague and started his own shoemaking business when very young. Františka had two older sisters: Růžena and Marie. As a girl, Františka enjoyed school and spending time in her father’s workshop, where people discussed politics, narrated stories and read aloud (reading aloud, fiction as well as non-fiction, was a relatively common pursuit among middle-class families). After qualifying in 1894 from the teachertraining college in Prague, then one of the very few higher educational establishments for women with intellectual ambitions, she taught at elementary schools outside Prague (1894–1899) and at secondary schools in Prague (1899–1925). Extremely able, Plamínková also learned French and German, painting (at night school), played the piano, sang with a Prague choir of female teachers, as well as attending lectures at Prague University. As Plamínková’s education progressed, a sense of justice pushed her to address women’s inequality, which seemed immutable in the face of thousand-year-old prejudices and traditions. In 1903, Františka Plamínková co-founded the Ženský klub český (Czech Women’s Club), which sought to promote the cultural and political life of women through lectures. Applying her talent for organizing and for identifying urgent political issues, she designed a lecture series on the legal position of women, as well as on health and other social issues. Eminent university professors such as Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk participated in the program as lecturers. Plamínková herself, in a lecture called “Moderní žena” (Modern woman)—held at the headquarters of the Ženský klub český in 1907—set forth strategies for the Czech 437 women’s movement: not to fight at any cost, but to continue to carry out good works as women, alongside men. Czech feminism, as envisioned by Plamínková and her colleagues, was to help men understand that better educated and more self-confident women also made better partners and professional colleagues. The lectures in the Ženský klub český were very successful and greatly influenced public opinion, as did the other, mostly educational activities of the Association. Nevertheless , it was deemed necessary to establish a more politically oriented organization if a better position for women in society and employment were to be won. To this end, Plamínková and others, including the politician Fráňa Zemínová, founded the Czech– Bohemian Výbor pro volební právo žen (Committee for Women’s Suffrage) in 1905. Plamínková became a leading figure in this organization and, upon discovering that electoral regulations did not explicitly exclude this option, began a campaign to get a female representative elected to the National Assembly. She herself refused to be nominated because she wanted to devote herself entirely to the campaign. In the end, the writer Božena Viková-Kunětická was nominated and in 1912, became the first woman to be elected to the Zemský sněm Království českého (Assembly of the Czech Kingdom). Although she never took office, the event was celebrated across Europe as well as at the Seventh Congress of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance (with which the Výbor pro volební právo žen had been affiliated since 1909) in Budapest in 1913. One of the pillars of the Czech women’s movement was Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk (1850–1937), political leader, philosopher, chief founder and first President of the Republic of Czechoslovakia—well known for his articles and lectures at the University and at the Americký klub dam (American Ladies’ Club) in Prague, as well as for his support of women’s admission to universities while working as a deputy in Vienna. Influenced by Masaryk’s observation that there was no woman’s or man’s question, only a social question (Masaryk, 62), a new generation was beginning to reevaluate attitudes towards women. The Washington Declaration of 18 October 1918 that promulgated the main democratic principles of...


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