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450 POSKA-GRÜNTHAL, Vera (Veera) (1898–1986) Leader of the Estonian feminist movement ; journalist and lawyer; activist in the international women’s movement. Vera Poska was born in Tallinn on 25 March 1898, into the family of Jaan Poska (1866–1920) and Constance Poska, born Ekström (1876–1922). Her father was a lawyer, Mayor of Tallinn (1917–1920), Estonian Prime Minister (1918), Minister of Foreign Affairs (1919) and Minister of Justice (1920). The Poskas belonged to the Orthodox Church and had six daughters and two sons [in order of seniority: Jüri, Niina, Jaan, Anna, Helena, Xenia (Ksenia), Tatjana and Vera]. Xenia studied medicine (1915– 1918) at the St Petersburg Women’s Medical Institute, and at the Universities of Paris (1919–1921) and Tartu (1921–1923). Her sister Tatjana (m. Arder, Laamann) studied at the Sorbonne in 1920 and 1926. Vera Poska finished the Tallinna Girls’ Gymnasium (high school) in 1915 and was admitted in the same year to the Faculty of Law at the famous Bestuzhev Higher Courses for Women in St Petersburg. In 1918, she studied at Voronezh University and in 1919, married Timotheus (Timoteus) Grünthal (1893–1955) in St Petersburg. Timotheus had begun his studies at the Faculty of Ancient Languages of St Petersburg University, but soon asked to be transferred to the Faculty of Law. In September 1919, the Grünthals returned to ‘the motherland,’ to Timotheus’ native town of Kuressaare. Later, in September 1920, the Grünthals moved to Tartu, where Timotheus began working at the municipal court—in the meantime continuing his studies at Tartu University’s Faculty of Law. Vera Poska-Grünthal also decided to continue her studies while bringing up two children: Konstantsia (1920–2005) and Svetlana (1922–1928). She was admitted to Tartu University as an auditor student (since she had no mathematics grade on her gymnasium leaving certificate). After passing additional exams, Poska-Grünthal enrolled in Tartu University, from which she graduated in 1925. She wrote in her diary that it had taken her ten years to achieve a university degree and that, between 1915 and 1925, there had been numerous obstacles namely the war, which had made it difficult to remain at one university. “[M]eanwhile,” she continued, “I gave birth to 451 four children, and our place of residence as well as living conditions changed a number of times” (Poska-Grünthal 1975, 58). Vera Poska-Grünthal worked as a lawyer (1926–1929) at the Bureau of Legal Advice for the City of Tallinn. She was also assistant to a law barrister in Tallinn (1927– 1929) and in Tartu (1929–1935), where her clients were wives in need of legal advice regarding domestic quarrels and divorce cases. While working for the Bureau of Legal Advice, she came to realize that the 1864 legal provisions for family law in the Baltic Civil Code were outdated and contradicted the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia (Poska-Grünthal 1975, 68–70). Indeed, laws regulating the family, marriage and the rights of the illegitimate child and mother were lacking altogether. Vera PoskaGr ünthal considered it essential that a future commission working on a family law bill include a female lawyer. She turned for support to the Eesti Naisorganisatsioonide Liit (Union of Estonian Women’s Organizations)—established in 1920, renamed (1930) the Eesti Naisliit (Estonian Women’s Society)—at whose 1924 Congress she spoke on the topic of family law. Her presentation was severly criticized by some members of the Eesti Naisorganisatsioonide Liit, who argued that there was no female lawyer in Estonia competent to argue with experienced male lawyers over the contents of the Civil Code. Subsequently, Vera Poska-Grünthal withdrew from public life for a while and began acquainting herself with the most up-to-date marriage and family laws of the period (those of the Scandinavian countries). She found support in the Eesti Akadeemiliste Naiste Ühing (EANÜ, Estonian Association of University Women), established in Tartu in 1926, which sought professional female lawyers to serve on the board of an independent commission working on the new Estonian Civil Code. In 1928, Vera Poska-Grünthal was a delegate representing the Eesti Naisorganisatsioonide Liit to the First Congress on Social Work in Paris (organized by the International Association of Women), at which she took part in a discussion on juvenile courts. It was during this congress that she first thought of establishing an international organization to unite female lawyers. She left the following note...

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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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