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470 RUDNYTSKA, Milena (1892–1979) Ukrainian political activist and publicist; organizer of the women’s movement and participant in the national liberation struggle in western Ukraine (1918–1939); President (1928–1939) of the Souz Ukrainok (Union of Ukrainian Women); deputy (1928–1939) to the Polish Parliament. Milena Rudnytska was born on 15 July 1892 in Zborov, a small town in eastern Galicia (today in Ukraine), at that time part of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. At the end of the nineteenth century, the political situation in this eastern and economically backward province of the Habsburg Empire had been determined by a lasting conflict between Poles and Ukrainians. Roman Catholic Poles had traditionally dominated cultural and political life in Galicia and turned favorable conditions under the Austro-Hungarian constitutional monarchy (which guaranteed the cultural rights of minorities) to their own advantage: namely the integration of the Polish nation. Greek Catholic Ukrainian peasants were economically exploited by Polish landlords and the Ukrainian elite was Polonized. Encouraged by the example of the more advanced nations in the Habsburg Empire (such as the Czechs) and stimulated by competition with the Poles, the Ukrainian intelligentsia fought for the political and cultural rights of Ukrainians and for the territorial autonomy of eastern Galicia. The years of Milena Rudnytska’s childhood were marked by the struggle of Ukrainians for access to education in their language and in particular for a Ukrainian university in Lviv. Milena’s mother Olga Rudnytska, maiden name Ida (1862?–1950), came from a poor Jewish merchant family. Milena’s father, Myhaylo Rudnytsky (1856–1906), was a public official (notary) from a Ukrainian gentry family. They had waited almost ten years before marrying because the parents on both sides had opposed the union. In the end, Milena’s mother had converted to Christianity. Milena remembered her parents ’ marriage as a happy one. The family spoke Polish; later, Milena’s mother Olga learned a little Ukrainian from her children. Milena had four brothers and was surrounded by intellectually and politically active young people throughout her childhood . All her brothers became prominent intellectuals and public figures: Myhaylo (1889–1975), a philologist; Volodymyr (1890–1974), a lawyer; Ivan (1896–1995), an 471 essayist and Antin (1902–1975), a composer and musician. Milena’s father, with whom she had a close relationship, participated actively in the cultural life of the Ukrainian community. Milena experienced his early and unexpected death in 1906 as an irreplaceable loss. Milena Rudnytska attended a gymnasium in Lviv (1903–1910) and later studied mathematics and philosophy at Lviv and Vienna universities (1910–1917). Vienna accommodated a Ukrainian community with a vibrant cultural and political life and in this stimulating environment, Rudnytska developed an interest in politics. She received a diploma in pedagogy (1917) and began writing a doctoral dissertation without ever completing it. In Vienna, she met Pavlo Lysiak (1887–1948), a journalist and a lawyer she had come to know through her brothers. She married him in 1919 and gave birth to a son, Ivan, but the marriage was not a success and Rudnytska ended up raising her child alone. She never married again and devoted herself to professional activity and political work. In 1918, the Habsburg Empire collapsed but the Western Ukrainian People’s Republic , proclaimed in Lviv that same year, did not survive. After a short but severe military conflict between Poles and Ukrainians in 1919, eastern Galicia became de facto part of the new Polish state. Its oppressive policy towards national minorities stimulated a national mass mobilization of Ukrainians. Rudnytska enthusiastically supported the short-lived Ukrainian government, but was not satisfied with the inferior role assigned to women within the national liberation movement. She focused her activities on organizing women and raising their civic consciousness. She saw feminism as a means of mobilizing women en masse, and involving them in practical political work on behalf of the future Ukrainian nation. [Rudnytska rarely used the term ‘feminism’ and when she did so, it was usually as a synonym for ‘the women’s movement :’ i.e. practical work among women aiming to educate them as active and conscious citizens of the (future) state. She avoided ‘feminist’ in favor of ‘women’s’ simply because she was seeking to address a mass female audience.] Rational, energetic and well educated, with an independent mind and strong political talents, Rudnytska was destined to become a leader. After her return to Lviv in 1920, Rudnytska became one of the activists of the Souz Ukrainok (Union of Ukrainian Women...


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