Feminisms and Politics in the Interwar Period

The Little Entente of Women (1923–1938)

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Katerina Dalakoura University of Crete, Greece dalakoura.katerina@gmail.com

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The primary goals of the Little Entente of Women were to hammer out a common agenda and joint strategies for the promotion of women's demands in the respective countries, and to create favorable conditions for socioeconomic, cultural, and political cooperation among the member states. This article addresses the latter goal of the LEW, based on the position that its objectives were deeply political, interwoven with contemporary political challenges in the region, and intersected with the foreign affairs policies of the associated countries. To support this position, the article explores the historical and political circumstances at the foundation of the LEW, the entanglements of its feminist strategies with regional diplomacy and politics and, lastly, focusing on the “Greek case,” the relationship between the foreign policy of the Greek state and the political initiatives of the Greek LEW member.

The Little Entente of Women (LEW) was founded in 1923 during the ninth conference of the International Women's Suffrage Alliance (IWSA), which took place in Rome (12–20 May 1923), by representatives of feminist organizations from Greece, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Romania, and two Central European countries, Poland and Czechoslovakia, participating in the conference either as IWSA members or as “visitors” (délégués fraternels, or “fraternal delegates”).1 More precisely, the founder feminist associations of the LEW and members after its foundation were the League of Greek Women for Woman's Rights (Greece), the Progressive Women's Political Club (Poland), and the Union for Women's Rights (Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, or Yugoslavia from 1929)—all three associations members of IWSA; the National Council of Romanian Women (Romania), a member of the International Council of Women (ICW); the Central Association of Czech Women and the Committee for Women's Suffrage (both from Czechoslovakia), with the latter being a member of both the IWSA and the ICW; and Durable Peace (Bulgaria), a member of the International League for Peace and Freedom. The feminist organizations initiating the establishment of the LEW represented different versions of feminism, as demonstrated also by their membership of different international associations, given the fluidity of the definitions of feminism at the time and the permeability of the dividing lines between the differing associations. However, the fact that they came together to found the LEW shows that their motivations for doing so went beyond differences in feminist approaches, and raises questions on the actual goals of this common, feminist, transnational endeavor.

The motivation for the establishment of the LEW, as set out by the representatives of the feminist organizations that initiated it, was cooperation among the organizations and a joint—and therefore more visible and dynamic—presentation of the similar sociopolitical issues facing women in their respective countries.2 Indeed, immediately following the signing of the LEW charter, drawn up in the intervals of the IWSA conference, its members supported the nomination of a LEW member to the IWSA board; Greece was selected by lot, and so Avra Theodoropoulou, President of the League of Greek Women for Women's Rights, was elected to the IWSA board.3

The more dynamic participation of women's organizations from countries that were not at the forefront of the feminist movement in meetings and on the boards of international feminist organizations—which were dominated by feminists and feminist organizations from Western Europe and the USA, who also essentially set the agenda—seems to have been proposed by some LEW members at an earlier stage. So, for example, the unification of the Slavic feminist organizations into a sort of “Slavic bloc” within the IWSA,4 or even the creation of a separate league of Slavic feminist organizations,5 had been discussed as early as 1911 at the Stockholm IWSA conference. Such discussions contributed to the establishment of the LEW, according to at least some of the feminists who were founding members.

The way in which these women from different countries and organizations approached each other with the intention of establishing a union for joint action and cooperation was described, at least by the Greek feminists who participated in the establishment of the LEW, as “spontaneous” and “natural”; as the result of an “affinity” they felt for each other due to their common national and sociocultural characteristics, their geographical proximity, and their common sociopolitical and historical “fate.” “Spontaneously, then, completely naturally, an attraction was formed among the women of the Balkan countries, which also drew in those of neighboring Czechoslovakia and Poland, and thus … a union named the Little Entente of Women first took shape.”6

This description is clearly marked by the Greek representatives’ concern to project a regional identity, primarily Balkan and (to a lesser extent) Eastern and Central European. They constructed this identity as a counterpoint to other groups—for example those of the Anglo-Saxon or Latin nations—along geopolitical and cultural lines, or principles of “racial kinship” or blood kinship, that justified the specific composition of the feminist organizations from those particular countries. The participation of Czechoslovakia and Poland (which is difficult to justify on the basis of “racial” or Balkan kinship) was “explained” by geographical proximity on the one hand, and on the other by exploiting the experiences of those countries with emancipation, as women were politically emancipated there, although “they still have to combat many inequalities in their Legislation,”7 a justification provided by Avra Theodoropoulou while presenting the LEW's establishment to the Greek public:

At the conference in Rome, among the forty-three countries that participated, “racial” similarities were clearly evident: one could distinguish the group of Anglo-Saxon nations, the group of representatives of the Latin countries, and so on. In the same way the similarities among the women of the Balkan and Eastern European countries were also evident. A sense of “community” was created between us and so we decided to set up another group next to the Anglo-Saxon and Latin country groups, a group with its own common characteristics: religion, traditions, identical family values, as well as social prejudices.8

The aims and objectives of the LEW, as set out in its founding protocol charter, signed in Rome and forming the subject of lengthy and detailed discussions at the first LEW conference in Bucharest (1–6 November 1923), fell from the very start into two categories: feminist objectives and pacifist political ones. More specifically, the aims of the LEW were as follows:

  1. Women's political, social, and civic emancipation in their countries;
  2. Full equality of women and men in legislation;
  3. Implementation of all rights already granted to women;
  4. Protection of women from any kind of exploitation;
  5. Protection of motherhood and childhood;
  6. Appointment of women to senior posts in public service, when qualified;
  7. Common moral code for both sexes;
  8. Sanitization of political mores; and
  9. Elimination of discord among member countries and sincere collaboration to preserve peaceful relations, thereby ensuring global peace.9

Thus, although the “recorded” aims primarily highlighted the feminist character of the LEW (indeed, during the first period of its establishment two names were in use, the “Little Entente of Women” and the “Little Feminist Entente”10), its political goals were intertwined with its pacifist ones, with the intention (as reflected in their wording) of smoothing political relations between the countries of origin of the founding feminist organizations. These political goals were far more clearly reflected in the particularly careful wording of the LEW charter, the drawing up of which was the primary objective of the first conference. The charter took care to avoid expressions and issues “such as might harm the national dignity” of the member organizations;11 these political aims were set out in the very first press releases on the establishment of the LEW, in which the LEW was presented either positively, as the beginning of the realization of a political vision,12 or negatively, as a veiled political plan.13 Above all, however, the LEW conference agendas, the speeches of the feminists participating in those conferences, their articles in the press, and the member organizations’ contacts with political parties, politicians, and governments of the respective countries confirm the political agenda of the LEW.

This article argues that the objectives of this regional, Balkan and Central European, association were predominantly and deeply political, were interwoven with contemporary political challenges in the region, and intersected with the foreign policies of the associated countries—albeit not always in the same way for all associations or for the entire duration of the LEW's existence—and with Balkan and Central Europe diplomacy. The concept of the “political,” as it is used here, does not address either the political aspect of the emancipatory demands of the feminist associations of the time (political, social, and civil equality between men and women, prioritizing civil rights and universal suffrage, protection of maternity and children, changes to legislation on female sexuality, etc.), or their “political” character (their explicit or implicit relationship with political ideologies or political parties and groupings), both of which were the main features of interwar feminisms in all the Balkan and Southeastern European countries, and have conceptualized “the political” to date in feminist accounts on interwar feminisms; it addresses the LEW's emancipatory strategies that entered the political sphere, linking the achievement of its goals to the changing of (national) politics in the Balkans and Central Europe. To put it another way, it addresses the Little Entente of Women's activities as intentional interventions to help shape the foreign policy of member states toward the Balkans and Central Europe, as interventions in Balkan and Central European diplomacy itself.

This article embraces the history of feminism as a “new” political history, as defined by Karen Offen.14 This orientation goes beyond the historically celebrated approach of “the private is political” or that of “feminism as politics.” It brings the history of feminism in from the margins of political history and incorporates it as part of, or as a different version of, that history, expanding the meaning of “politics” and the “political.” In this context, feminist historical research and narrative entangles with subjects and domains of “old” political history, such as national and international diplomacy, political movements, individuals, ideas, and collective actions—which cross borders—as well as the entanglements between the “national” and “international.” Thus adopting an inter- and transnational perspective, it attempts to understand women's and feminist interventions and their relationships to feminist history as an international and transnational history.15

The study presented here is based mainly on primary sources (archival and published) that reconstruct the history of the LEW, and on secondary sources in order to gain an understanding of the historical circumstances, national ambitions, and policies in the Balkans and the wider region after World War I on the one hand, and the LEW's relationship to the interwar feminist movement and feminist activism (national and international) on the other. The primary sources mainly consist of Greek feminist journals of the period (published by the feminist organizations active in Greece at the time), personal archives of feminists who played a leading role in the feminist movement in Greece and participated in the LEW, and personal archives of leading figures on the political stage during this period, who shaped Greek foreign policy in practice or ideologically. As a result, the evidence is primarily derived from the Greek case, and from this point of view is subject to the limitations imposed by the investigation and analysis of only one “national case” of a transnational association. A comparative study of the other LEW “national cases” could confirm, refute, or modify the arguments of this article. Such comparative study and research has been undertaken by a group of scholars, and some of the preliminary results are presented in this Forum.

Historical Context: The Emergence of the LEW and the Question of the “Political”

This article draws, firstly, on arguments from the historical context in which the initiative to establish the LEW developed. More specifically, the cooperation of Balkan and Central European feminist organizations was born in the climate of optimism that arose during the first decade after World War I, which celebrated the return to peace and the emergence of peace movements on a transnational scale. Following the establishment of the League of Nations immediately after the war, Europe saw intense political activity leading to the formation of other international organizations, which aimed to lead nations to a better understanding of and closer cooperation with each other, eliminating the likelihood of new wars. In the Balkans, which found themselves sorely tried and divided by the war, this optimistic climate and political activity were reflected at first in the bilateral Balkan treaties of cooperation and friendship. In the early 1930s, when economic and social problems intensified, accompanied by the lurking danger of a possible second great war (heralded by Hitler's accession to power and Germany's withdrawal from the League of Nations in 1933, the renewal of the Little Entente treaty in the same year, and the gradual dominance of totalitarian and bellicose politics in many continental European countries), further intensive efforts to secure peace emerged; these were reflected in broader Balkan collaborations, such as the “Balkan Conferences” initiative (1930–1934) and the Balkan Treaty (1934),16 and in the revival of the idea of a Balkan federation.17

Thus, an initiative such as the establishment of the LEW can be placed in the context of this wider global and regional peace movement, as well as that of the international women's peace movement, which flourished at the time with the creation of new international and regional peace organizations,18 and can be approached as an initiative aiming to secure peace in the region, thereby ensuring global peace. The LEW's pacifist aims were repeatedly stressed in its conferences, recorded in the resolutions passed at the conclusion of those conferences, and reflected in specific initiatives it undertook (e.g., the establishment of a Peace Committee in 1926, with which the LEW participated in the conferences of international organizations for peace). However, this shift of Balkan and Central European feminist associations toward regional collaboration (while still participating in international women's peace associations, activities, and conferences)19 has further political implications; it indicates an awareness of the political aspects exclusive to the region, and therefore of the political significance of such an endeavor. Within a single decade, two Balkan wars (October 1912–May 1913, June–July 1913) and one world war (1914–1918) had erupted, during which the Balkan countries found themselves fighting one another or in rival camps. By the end of those wars, they were faced with altered territorial boundaries that carried the risk of bloody revisions. This was a risk also faced by the new Central European states that emerged from the dissolution of the empires (Austro-Hungarian, German, and Russian) at the end of World War I, as their creation was not accompanied by clear guarantees of their security by the victorious Great Powers in the case of potential efforts to reconstitute the central empires or redraw their borders.20

At the same time, the restructured political map of Central and Southeastern Europe after the end of World War I and the insecurity of the new states that resulted from the redrawing of national borders; the rivalry among the victorious Great Powers in the Balkan region (which aimed to prevent the potential political hegemony of one Power or another);21 unsolved national problems; national minorities; irredentism; and revisionism were countervailing forces that quashed efforts toward rapprochement and understanding in the region.22 These tensions gradually emerged within women's inter-Balkan and Central European collaborations as well. The LEW faced many obstacles in the course of its development: disagreements, exclusions, and withdrawals, especially when the planning of common strategies touched upon the particular national interests of one or more Balkan countries. For example, the Bulgarian association was expelled from the LEW in 1923 due to its “unilateral” initiative on Bulgarian minorities, at the request of the Serbian member.23

Moreover, the LEW's establishment by the feminist organizations of these specific countries, the efforts to transform it (e.g., proposals to include organizations from other countries or attempts to reestablish it with fewer members), the gradual deactivation of certain member organizations may be associated with expressed political visions of a more organic connection among the counties of this region, shifts in the foreign policy of the LEW member countries, or the ambitions and plans of international diplomacy for the region. For example, some politicians seem to have envisioned the creation of a “zone” or federation of states. The Czechoslovak philosopher and politician Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, in his book New Europe (1917), outlined the plan for an organized zone of small nations extending from the Baltic to the Aegean: “a common union which would contribute to the welfare and peace of the whole world.”24 Greek politicians such as Alexandros Papanastasiou also dreamed of a federation of Balkan states (1923) and worked for the Balkan Entente (1934).25 These factors may explain the “peculiar” cohabitation in the LEW of countries such as Czechoslovakia and Poland on the one hand and Greece on the other, or the proposals of the Greek member organization for the participation of the other Balkan countries too, as well as the gradual turning away of the Greek feminist organization from the LEW toward the Balkan Conferences. The Czechoslovak policy, under Eduard Benes, of bringing Poland into a form of bilateral cooperation with the Little Entente state members may be a reason for Poland's presence in the LEW.26 Moreover, the fact that the members of the Little Entente (Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Yugoslavia) created a Permanent Secretariat and a Permanent Council to direct a common policy after Hitler assumed power may be connected to the efforts of the Czechoslovakian feminist member associations of the LEW to reestablish it, including only the feminist organizations of the Little Entente member states.27

Furthermore, the name chosen for the association, the “Little Entente of Women”—modeled on the Little Entente (LE), the political-military alliance established in 1920 and 1921 by Czechoslovakia, Romania, and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (Yugoslavia after 1929) to provide a unified defense strategy against presumptive (Hungarian and Bulgarian) revisionist initiatives and to preserve the members’ territorial integrity—evokes political associations in itself; it refers to an intervention in politics and to the exercise of diplomacy in the region (at the level of the diplomacy of the LE), while it also carries the symbolism of exercising “a women's politics.”28 The aims of the LEW were defined by its protagonists in contradistinction to the aims of the LE (“collaboration vs. LE defense strategies”), while its approach of not treating “neighbors as enemies” and aiming at the inclusion of all states in the region contrasted with the LE's state-exclusion policy.29 Indeed, the LEW included three countries not in the LE: Greece, Poland, and Bulgaria, the first two of which could have been accepted in the LE, as negotiations with them had already taken place (with Greece in the year of the LE's establishment, and with Poland as early as 192030). Bulgaria, however, was excluded from the LE by definition (partly due to its position during World War I), a political obstacle that the LEW overcame and highlighted as proof of its different aims and policy (although this applied for only a very short period, as Bulgaria was expelled from the organization at the first LEW conference in Bucharest, in November 1923). Thus, the choice of name of this Balkan and Central European feminist organization seems to be an indirect declaration of its intention or will to exercise high-level diplomacy in the region.

The feminists participating in the LEW did not explicitly refer to the organization's political dimension in the same way. Greek feminists, while not denying it, were careful to downplay and limit this aspect in their public discourse. Avra Theodoropoulou, for example, when presenting the LEW's establishment and its aims to the Greek public, noted: “Of course we never considered placing on this women's association further political importance than it could bear. Unfortunately, women's opinions still carry little weight in the political life of the Balkan countries … But we are convinced that one day it will be recognized that the idea born in the minds of a few exceptional men … has found a place in women's souls and, in some of them at least, become faith.”31 She asserted that the name of the union was chosen in order to define “its geographical scope,” which coincides with the scope of the political Little Entente.32 Members of Bulgarian feminist organizations who disagreed with Bulgarian participation in the LEW, on the contrary, attributed to it purely political aims, arguing that it was a means for the implementation of French foreign policy and functioned “as a supplement of the Little Entente.”33 These positions were expressed both while Bulgaria was a member of the LEW and after its ejection. In Czechoslovakia, too, the LEW appears to have been regarded as corresponding to the LE, according to Gabriela Dudeková Kováčová's research.34

Based on the above, it appears that the LEW reflected the specific historical and political circumstances of the time of its emergence and of its lifespan, and that there was an explicit or implicit awareness of the “political” with regard to its establishment and objectives, both among the feminists participating in it and the feminist organizations of its member states.

Feminist Initiatives and Political Visions

The most important means for the achievement of the LEW's aims and the implementation and dissemination of its work, among other methods,35 was organizing conferences. These conferences were workshops for discussing feminist and pacifist policy issues, decision-making and activity-planning spaces, and a means of disseminating work and ensuring the LEW's general visibility. The LEW charter provided for an annual conference. Each conference was to be organized in the capital of the country holding the LEW presidency (which also changed annually). Five conferences were held (Bucharest 1923, Belgrade 1924, Athens 1925, Prague 1927, and Warsaw 1929), as well as a preliminary one before the Prague conference, held during the tenth conference of the IWSA in Paris in 1926. The agenda of each conference was defined at the previous one; the items on the agenda were processed by working groups set up in each of the member organizations, based on a questionnaire drawn up and sent out by the coordinating working group. Each national working group recorded its country's data and sent it for preliminary joint examination and preparation for the discussion and decision-making process during the conference. Besides the working group meetings and the plenary session for the representatives of the feminist member organizations, various other public events were also held at the conferences; the most important were the mass public gatherings to which representatives of other organizations (women's and feminist organizations, trade unions, etc.) were invited, along with representatives of the governments and embassies of the member states.

It is particularly interesting to note that the topics of discussion and work themes at each conference were classified according to their contents with labels such as “feminist,” “legal,” and “political.” This last category covered subjects concerning the transnational cooperation of the member states at the level of economics, communication, and transport, and also political issues such as “free cross-border travel of citizens,” a “prospective federal association,”36 or the foreign policy of LEW member states. For example, the issues decided for the agenda of the second LEW conference in Belgrade (30 October–4 November 1924) were divided into three categories: “feminist,” “legislative,” and “political.” The topic of the fourth day of the conference had the title, “The Foreign Policy Issues Preoccupying the Member States of the LEW, and What Should Be the Position of the LEW in Regard to Them.”37 The ways in which the LEW intervened in political and regional diplomatic issues are highlighted in the two examples that follow. The first concerns the development of proposals for economic cooperation among LEW member states, while the second refers to the investigation of the possibility of creating an Eastern European and Balkan political confederation.

One of the topics raised in the agenda of the fourth LEW conference in Prague—prepared at the previous conference, held in Athens (1925)—was to explore the possibility of and the appropriate means for future economic cooperation or an economic federation among the LEW countries. A questionnaire was delivered to the member associations (according to the established strategy for preparing the topics to be discussed at the conferences, as mentioned above), and extremely detailed data were selected: the products imported or exported by each country, from and to which LEW countries; quantitative details on each product; the percentage of GNP that these imports and exports represented; information on existing trade agreements between the countries; and so on.38 The survey data informed the LEW's decisions on the subject of the Prague conference, which each feminist member organization was expected to support in its own country, working toward their implementation. The set of decisions on economic cooperation was sent to the governments of LEW member states as a suggested “common economic policy” and included: the establishment of customs advantages for trade between LEW countries; building new railways and other means of transport; shifting national chambers of commerce toward the markets of LEW member states for imports; considering a union of national trade chambers; and establishment of a bank with capital investment from LEW countries. It was also published under the title “The LEW's Strategic Policy on Economic Relations between the Countries Represented in the LEW.”39

This highly detailed work, the up-to-date economic data, and the well-formulated economic policy proposals appear to presuppose close collaboration with the governments, or members thereof, of the respective countries. At least in the case of Greece, this is proven by the archive material. Maria Svolou, a member of the Greek working group that sent the relevant data, was a supervisor in the Finance Ministry (until 1923), and her husband Alexandros Svolos held a high position in the Ministry of National Economy. Indeed, LEW proposals for economic collaboration appear to reflect the Greek state's proposals for an inter-Balkan cooperation or federation.40

The subject of the unification of LEW member states, in the form of a loose confederation, appeared in the discourse of the LEW's feminist activists from its very foundation. It emerged vaguely at first, as a sort of ideological or feminist union of countries, a “confederation of cooperation,” and later more specifically, referring to particular domains of the state's organization and the undertaking of relevant activities—for example in the economy, as stated above—or to a political union, as discussed below. Not all LEW feminist organizations showed the same interest in the subject; the representatives of the Greek organization, however, showed a consistent interest in it and undertook relevant initiatives.

From the first announcements of the LEW's establishment to the Greek public (through articles in the press and two public events in November 1923 and March 1924), the LEW was presented as a “Federation of Eastern European nations.” At her speech at the first LEW conference in Bucharest (1923), Avra Theodoropoulou addressed the issue in the same way: “I am proud that we women have been able to take the first step toward the realization of the beautiful dream dreamed by the greatest men, politicians, and poets of our countries. The dream of a federation among the Nations of Eastern Europe.”41 In her Belgrade conference speech she made a more detailed and concrete reference to this “dreamed-of” federation. She drew a new map (an imaginary one, as she noted) of Southeastern Europe, “with the country borders as they are now but with a better-defined outer borderline enclosing its countries: Romania, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Albania, Greece, and Turkey. . . . All these countries form a harmonious whole, like provinces of the same state. So if we see them like that, as provinces, what does the size of each one matter, large or small, or if it is inhabited by different populations?”42 The federation of Eastern European countries was implicitly transformed, in Theodoropoulou's discourse, into a Balkan federation (mentioning only the Balkan countries), but it was to be openly named and discussed at the fourth conference in Prague.

At the preparatory meeting for the Prague conference, held during the tenth IWSA conference in Paris in 1926, the LEW established its own Peace Committee chaired by Avra Theodoropoulou. A questionnaire was prepared by this committee and sent to all member associations with the intention of exploring the suggested means of securing peace and progress in the region and globally. The issue of a “Balkan federation” was featured in the questionnaire, with a specific question addressing it as a means of maintaining peace in the region, while also exploring the LEW's policy on the issue and its members’ will and ability to undertake relevant actions. The question was the following: “How does public opinion consider the idea of a Balkan federation in your country and what information can you provide on the possible acceptance or rejection of the idea?”43 The various countries provided different answers to this question. Romania replied vaguely that the idea of a Balkan federation would be positively received by public opinion. Yugoslavia stated that the idea would be welcome, noting that the state's foreign policy was gradually adopting a federalist strategy. Czechoslovakia said that the state had a Central European rather than a Balkan policy, but that as long as the Treaties of Saint-Germain and Trianon were respected at the establishment of the federation, the response would be “sympathetic.” Poland reported that the response would probably be positive, although noting that public opinion did not show much interest in the issue as it was not directly affected by it. The Greek response was that the proposal would be welcome, but that the public still only had a vague idea of how it might be implemented.44 The decisions on the Balkan federation issue, forming part of the “Peace Program of the LEW,” were detailed in the press, and made very explicit the LEW's policy toward such an attempt: “The LEW rejects any alliance of secret conciliation or convention that would create obstacles to a close political and economic union among these countries. We believe that the means that would best secure such a political and economic union are: a customs union of the countries and the abolition of passports, [and] the adaption of a policy for the improvement, proliferation, and common administration of all means of transport in the countries involved.”45

The LEW, therefore, appears to have intervened in regional politics. It formed sets of proposals on economic, minority, or foreign policy issues and sent them to the member-state governments. However, the LEW's communication and relations with state authorities were not limited to this; representatives of member-state governments, ambassadors, and members of the national parliaments were invited to the LEW conferences. Governments also regularly sent congratulatory telegrams to the LEW presidency or their country's feminist organization at the opening of LEW annual conferences, attended the events organized, and financially supported the delegations of their country's feminist organization, while networks of further ongoing communication were established between feminists from these organizations and politicians in their respective countries. In other words, the LEW sought to be a significant agent of transnational politics and diplomacy, and was actually perceived as such.

This communication and relationship, sought by both sides, raises further questions concerning the relationship between the LEW's political and pacifist agenda and, on the one hand, the (conflicting) national ambitions of the member states, and on the other, international diplomacy in the region; it also poses questions on the relationship between the particular agenda of each feminist member association and the foreign policy and national ambitions of the respective states. To explore these relationships, I will focus on the case of Greece.

National Politics and the LEW: The Case of Greece

The interwar period was a turning point for the feminist movement in Greece (in terms of the emergence of women's mass movements, the shift in rhetoric and sociopolitical concerns, the primacy of political rights and suffrage, and the connection to the “political”), as it also was in the Balkans and Central Europe. During this period, various feminist organizations were established (more than one in each country) and became connected to different political and ideological orientations and groupings, thus presenting different versions of strategies for equality and of feminism, with different political bases. Another crucial feature of interwar feminist organizations in the Balkan and Central European countries was their association with international women's organizations, in most cases corresponding to the political versions of the feminism they represented, as was the case with LEW feminist member organizations and their connections to international feminist and peace movements.

Among the feminist organizations that emerged in Greece in the interwar period (all founded, as in the other countries of the region, on the basis of their political affinities), the most active and largest were the League of Greek Women for Women's Rights (LGWWR), the LEW member organization, and the National Council of Greek Women (NCGW). The LGWWR was founded in 1920 at the exhortation of the IWSA, a member of which it then became. Within the Greek feminist movement it represented so-called “radical liberal feminism.” The NCGW (first constituted in 1908) was reconstituted in 1919, expressing the positions of conservative liberal feminism and also participating in the international feminist movement; it was a member of the International Council of Women (ICW) and a branch of the International League for Peace and Freedom. A third organization, representing the socialist version of feminism, with a number of very active members despite its small overall membership, was the Socialist Women's Group (SWG), founded in 1919, a member of the Socialist International of Women. The Greek feminist movement included two more organizations: the Feminist Association in Macedonia and Thrace (FAMTH), founded in 1928, which became a branch of the LGWWR in 1933, and the Lyceum of Greek Women (LGW) (founded in 1911), which was in line with the NCGW with regard to the version of feminism supported and was a member of the International Association of Lyceum Clubs.46

In spite of the organizations’ differing political starting points, which marked their approaches to contemporary feminist issues, the dividing lines between the organizations were permeable. Celebrated feminists of the time participated in or worked for more than one feminist organization simultaneously. Athina Gaitanou-Giannou, for example, the founder of the SWG, was for many years (1921–1932) the editor of the feminist journal Hellenis (Greek Woman) (1921–1940), the organ of the NCGW;47 Rosa Imvrioti, an educator and headmistress in girls’ secondary schools, while a member of the SWG, participated in the activities of the LGWWR.48 Agni Rousopoulou was a member of the NCGW and also active in the LGWWR. The sociopolitical processes aiming at a modernization of the Greek state based on the principles of political liberalism, the fluidity of contemporary political ideologies, and the frequent (and shifting) collaborations between the liberals and smaller political parties and groupings (socialists and radical “sociologists”) in Greek politics provided a fluid political context, reflected in the relationships among the feminist associations.

Furthermore, the express and recurrent—until the mid-1930s—engagement of the feminist associations with feminist struggles, which were given priority over their political differences,49 as a common strategy and basis for their practices shaped a largely common agenda. All associations, for example, agreed on the significance of the struggle for women's suffrage; their differences lay in the strategies to be employed or in the argumentation provided, with the socialists arguing that women should first be given general and citizenship education and then claim the right to vote, a position matching that of the National Council bourgeois conservatives (the difference lying in the rationales), while the feminists of the League for Women's Rights supported the immediate concession of the right to vote to all women without exceptions.50 When, in 1930, Greek women were granted the right to vote in local elections, although with the restrictions of age and literacy, it was hailed as a feminist victory by all the organizations except the socialists, who, shifting from their earlier position, viewed this “victory” as a compromise and demanded unrestricted voting rights.51

Against this background, feminist organizations sought to have and maintain close relations with all governments, no matter which political party was in power. Prioritizing women's suffrage and legislative reforms presupposed that feminists had to have contacts and communication with all political forces to meet their goals.52 Nevertheless, there were political coalitions and “sympathies” for specific political forces or groupings—not openly expressed—reflected in the networks of political connections of the women participating in the organizations. The LGWWR had been rather politically inclined toward Alexandros Papanastasiou's Democratic Union Party, which supported the policies of the Liberal Party headed by Eleftherios Venizelos, the dominant political power of the period, acting—when cooperating—as its “left wing.” Alexandros Papanastasiou, a liberal politician with socialist influences, was a consistent supporter of the cooperation of the Balkan states toward a Balkan federation, and the person who initiated the Balkan Conferences. Maria Svolou, General Secretary of the LGWWR, was also associated with the same political circle. Athina Gaitanou-Gianniou, the founder of the SWG, was the partner—and later wife—of Nikolaos Giannios, the chair of the social democratic wing of the Greek socialists and another supporter of the Balkan federation idea.53 It should be noted here, however, that there was no direct correspondence between the agendas of the feminist organizations and the stances of the political parties with which they sided ideologically on feminist issues.

The Balkan foreign policy of Eleftherios Venizelos, the leader of the Liberal Party, which was actually the foreign policy of the Greek state on the Balkans until the early 1930s, was in favor of bilateral state agreements for resolving inter-Balkan disputes and maintaining peace in the region, under the auspices of the League of Nations. Venizelos considered a “Balkan alliance” or “entente” including all the Balkan states an unrealistic plan, due to the complicated history of the Balkans and the different problems each country had to resolve. On the contrary, an inter-Balkan alliance, without the intervention of foreign or non-Balkan powers (including the League of Nations54), and a Balkan federation of states were included in the programmatic plans of Papanastasiou's Democratic Union Party and Giannios's Social Democrats. In the early 1930s, with the shifting alliances among the Balkan countries, the Italian interventions in the Balkans, and the revival of revisionism, the bilateral “treaties of amity” were no longer sufficient to serve the states’ and regions’ security and defense against the new war looming on the horizon. Thus, an inter-Balkan entente including all the Balkan countries became crucial to Greek foreign policy, embracing Papanastasiou's Balkan federation vision and activities to that end. A Balkan Entente—also called the Balkan Pact—was finally signed in Athens on 9 October 1934 by Greece, Yugoslavia, Romania, and Turkey, following the four Balkan Conferences (Athens, October 1930; Istanbul–Ankara, October 1931; Bucharest, October 1932; Thessaloniki, November 1933), which prepared for it and in which feminist member organizations of the LEW participated.55 It should be noted that while the Balkan Conferences were initiated by nongovernmental actors—with Alexandros Papanastasiou playing a leading role in their convocation—pursuing inter-Balkan cooperation or even a federation, the Balkan Entente was a governmental defense agreement, aiming to secure the territorial status quo of the Balkan states, against the state(s) threatening it.56

Understanding and cooperation among the Balkan countries with the ultimate goal of creating a Balkan federation had been a central pillar of Alexandros Papanastasiou's politics. As early as 1910, he included the goal of “confederacy” among the Balkan states in the programmatic plan of the People's Party, which he founded in the same year. The same goal of pursuing Greek collaboration with the Balkan states toward a Balkan federation featured in the programmatic plan of the Democratic Union Party, the new political party he founded in 1923. As Prime Minister of the newly formed Second Greek Republic, in 1924, Papanastasiou promoted more actively the idea of a Balkan federation or a “League of Balkan states.” He put the issue forward officially and at the international level at the Twenty-Sixth Peace Conference of the International Peace Bureau in Geneva in 1928. Within the favorable international conditions of the time for such endeavors, his proposal was approved and he was encouraged to act on it. At the next Peace Conference in Athens (6–12 October 1929), the institution of the Balkan Conferences was created at his proposal, as a means of attaining cooperation and gradually the formation of a federation of states. The League of Nations, negotiating disputes between Balkan countries, had also put forward the concept of a “Balkan entente” or “pact” in 1923, while other countries and Great Powers (e.g., Britain and Italy) had stressed the importance of a “Balkan Locarno” on various occasions since then.57

Therefore, the discussions and elaborations at LEW conferences of issues concerning the cooperation of its member countries, the references to a possible future state federation, and the survey on public opinion regarding the possibility of creating a Balkan federation (in 1927) appear to have taken place at a time when these issues had been frequently addressed in both the foreign policy of Balkan and Central European countries and the international diplomacy concerning the region. The LGWWR's concurrent references to the “dream” of a federation of Eastern European, Southeastern European, or Balkan countries appear to be in line with Papanastasiou's abiding interest in the issue and his political project. Moreover, the LGWWR's persistence in addressing the topic indicates a commitment to it from the very beginning of the LEW project, something that was later explicitly stated by Avra Theodoropoulou in her speech at the first Balkan Conference in 1930: “The dream that led to the forming of the LEW at the Rome conference; the dream for which we worked as much as we could at all the LEW conferences was this: the dream of a Balkan federation.”58 This statement, together with the participation of feminists from LEW member organizations in the Balkan Conferences and their activities in that context, could be considered a continuation of the LEW's activities and, most notably, a direct involvement in politics and diplomacy in the region.

The LGWWR initiatives and activity within the LEW (and the Balkan Conferences) were welcomed by the Greek governments as supportive of Greek foreign policy. Alexandros Papanastasiou, for example, in his address to the 1924 public event organized by the LGWWR to inform the Greek public of the LEW's two first years of activity, stated: “I am delighted to take the opportunity today to express my warmest congratulations to the LGWWR for its successful activity. Ultimately the LGWWR has also come to support state foreign policy. Common fortunes, similar geographical conditions, propinquity of blood, common economic interests, all necessarily impose the rapprochement of the Balkan peoples. It is to this necessity that the Hellenic Republic adapts its foreign policy.”59 In this context, regular relations between the LGWWR and the Greek governments, no matter which political party was in power, had been established. Government representatives and members of parliament were invited to LGWWR activities, ambassadors received the Greek feminist delegation at the embassy during the annual LEW conferences, and so on. Furthermore, Greek governments were informed of the activity and initiatives of the LGWWR. For example, the members of the Greek delegation to the IWSA conference in Rome (May 1923) informed the current Greek government of the establishment of the LEW immediately on their return to Athens. It seems that these relations were not exclusive to Greece, as the annual LEW conferences held in different member-state capitals were attended by the political and communal authorities of the country hosting the conference and representatives of the embassies of LEW member states, while LEW national delegations were often provided with financial support by their governments.


The formation of the LEW appears to be an original historical example of the shift of national feminist organizations toward the formation of regional transnational associations—in the context of the particular historical circumstances—pursuing political goals entangled with pacifist and feminist objectives. The targeted involvement in (regional) politics and diplomacy seems to have been a particular feature of this regional feminist federation, something that differentiates it from other similar European coalitions.60

The political objectives of the LEW, though not particularly stressed in the first written texts by the feminists participating in it, became more specific and more frequently expressed during the development of the association's activities. In the case of the Greek feminist member association, the political objectives were already set out in the very first press releases on the LEW. The approaches of the Greek feminists to the political issues discussed at LEW conferences did not differ from the state's foreign policy on the Balkans and its shifts, as Greek foreign policy adapted to the very intensive international diplomacy of the time; this is reflected in the feminists’ increasing interest in the Balkan Conferences (1930–1934), and, consequently, the declining activity within the LEW from 1928 onward, when the implementation of the Balkan Conferences appeared to be feasible. This changing attitude and activity of the Greek feminist organization coincided with the altered feminist and political aims of other LEW members. Therefore, an understanding of the “political activity” of LEW members and the LEW as a whole, and the implications of members’ political interventions for the association itself, calls for a comparative study of LEW “national cases” with respect to the same research questions. Crucial questions to be asked would be, for example, whether LEW members and the LEW had their own political agenda(s) independent of the national foreign policy of the respective countries, or whether they just followed and served them; whether they challenged, by their political interventions and proposals, male definitions or assumptions about politics or political issues, and if so, to what extent? Thus such a study could confirm, refute, or modify the thesis of this article. Some of the preliminary results of this comparative study are presented in this Forum.



Délégués fraternels were delegations from non-IWSA member organizations; these delegations had the right to attend IWSA conferences but not to participate in the discussions or vote on the conference decisions or resolutions. See Avra Theodoropoulou, “Apo to Gynaikeio Synedrio tis Romis” [From the women's conference in Rome], O Agonas tis Gynaikas [Woman's struggle] 1, nos. 1–2 (1923), 2–4, here 2.


“I anakoinosi gia ti Mikri Antant ton Gynaikon” [Announcement on the Little Entente of Women], O Agonas tis Gynaikas 2, nos. 9–10 (1924), 2–5, here 2.


Anna Papadimitriou, “Entyposeis apo to Gynaikeion Synedrion tis Romis” [Impressions from the Rome conference], Hellenis 3, nos. 6–7 (1923), 113–118, here 118; Theodoropoulou, “Apo to Gynaikeio Synedrio tis Romis,” 4.


For further details, see Gabriela Dudeková Kováčová, “The Little Entente of Women in Czechoslovakia: Between European Cooperation and the Promotion of National Goals” (paper presented at the 26th International Conference of Europeanists, Sovereignties in Contention: Nations, Regions and Citizens in Europe,” Madrid, 20–22 June 2019), 4.


According to Milena Atanacković, president of the Serbian Union of Women's Rights, the initial plan of the Serbian delegation at the Rome conference in 1923 was to establish an association that would include the Slavic feminist organizations (cited in Krassimira Daskalova's contribution to this Forum).


“I anakoinosi gia ti Mikri Antant ton Gynaikon,” 2.


Ibid., 5.


Ibid., 2.


“Mikri Feministiki Antant” [Little Feminist Entente], O Agonas tis Gynaikas 1, nos. 1–2 (1923), 6–7, here 7; “I anakoinosi gia ti Mikri Antant ton Gynaikon,” 2.


“Mikri Feministiki Antant,” 6; Alexandra Ioannidou, “I Feministiki Mikri Antant” [The Feminist Little Entente], O Agonas tis Gynaikas 1, no. 3 (1923), 2–3, here 2; “Le Congrè de la Petite Entente Feministe,” O Agonas tis Gynaikas 1, no. 4 (1923), 8.


Avra Theodoropoulou, “To A’ Synedrio tis Mikris Antant ton Gynaikon” [The first LEW conference], O Agonas tis Gynaikas 1, no. 5 (1923), 2–3, here 2; “I anakoinosi gia ti Mikri Antant ton Gynaikon,” 2; “I anakoinosi gia ti Mikri Antant ton Gynaikon” [Announcement on the Little Entente of Women], O Agonas tis Gynaikas 2, no. 14 (1924), 3–7, here 6–7.


For such a presentation, see Theodoropoulou, “To A’ Synedrio tis Mikris Antant ton Gynaikon,” 2; “I Omilia tis kas Avras Theoropoulou sto Synedrio tou Voukourestiou” [Mrs. Avra Theodoropoulou's speech at the Bucharest conference], O Agonas tis Gynaikas 1, no. 5 (1923), 8; “Oi dromoi pros tin Eirini: I Omilia tis kas Avras Theoropoulou sto Synedrio tou Beligradiou” [Roads to peace: Mrs. Avra Theodoropoulou's speech at the Belgrade conference], O Agonas tis Gynaikas 2, no. 15 (1924), 3–4.


This approach was shared by Bulgarian and Czechoslovakian feminists; see Krassimira Daskalova's and Gabriela Dudeková Kováčová's contributions to this Forum.


Karen Offen, “The History of Feminism is Political History,” Perspectives on History: The News Magazine of the American Historical Association, 1 May 2011, 1–8, https://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/may-2011/the-history-of-feminism-is-political-history.


Francisca de Haan, “Writing Inter/Transnational History: The Case of Women's Movements and Feminisms,” in Internationale Geschichte in Theorie und Praxis/International History in Theory and Practice, ed. Barbara Haider-Wilson, William D. Godsey, and Wolfgang Mueller (Vienna: Verlag der Oesterreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaftten, 2017), 501–536, here 503–510.


Petar Arsov, “Les Conferences Balkaniques 1930–1933” [Balkan conferences 1930–1933], Studia Balkanica [Balkan studies] 11 (1977), 5–8; Spyridon Sfetas, “Valkanika Symfona Filias, 1913–2011” [Balkan treaties of amity, 1913–2011], in Valkania 1913–1011: Ekato chronia thyelles kai chimaires [Balkans 1913–2011: A hundred years of turmoil and chimeras], ed. Nikolaos Mertzos, Spyridon Sfetas, Ioannis Zoukas, et al. (Thessaloniki: Kyriakidis Brothers, 2012), 103–118; Manolis Koumas, I ellhniki exoteriki politiki kai to zitima tis asfaleias sti Notioanatoliki Europi 1933–1936 [Greek foreign policy and security problems in Southeastern Europe, 1933–1936] (Athens: Sideris, 2010).


Maria Nystazopoulou-Pelekidou, “O Alexandros Papanastasiou kai i Valkaniki Synennoisi” [Alexandros Papanastasiou and the Balkan Entente], Dodoni [Dodona] 16 (1987), 135–157; Areti Tunta-Fergadi, “O Nikolae Tituleskou kai i valkaniki proseggisi (1928, 1933–1934)” [Nicholae Titulescu and the Balkan approach (1928, 1933–1934], in Prosfora—Timi ston Ilia Krispi [In honor of Ilias Krispis], ed. Foundation for International Legal Studies (Athens: Sakkoulas, 1995), 537–557.


For further details on the various forms (and objectives) of interwar women's activism and peace, see Ingrid Sharp and Matthew Stibbe, “Women's International Activism during the Interwar Period, 1919–1939,” Women's History Review 26, no. 2 (2017), 163–172, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09612025.2016.1181332.


For instance, the Bulgarian association Durable Peace and the Greek National Council (GNC) were both branches of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, established in 1919, while most of the feminist associations of the region participated in international peace conferences or meetings (e.g., in 1921, 1924, 1926, 1929, 1932, 1934, and 1937).


Sfetas, “Valkanika Symfona Filias, 1913–2011,” 103.


The Anglo-Italian approach, for example, via the “Balkan Locarno,” aimed to weaken the Little Entente, the “French-controlled” coalition of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Romania, while the Anglo-French axis to curb Italy in the Balkans was formed in 1928. See ibid. See also Areti Tunta-Fergadi, I exoteriki politiki ton Megalon Dynameon ston Mesopolemo [The foreign affairs policy of the great powers in the interwar period] (Athens: Sideris, 2000).


Sfetas, “Valkanika Symfona Filias, 1913–2011”; Koumas, I elliniki exoteriki politiki.


Krassimira Daskalova, “Tensions within the Interwar South Eastern European Women's Movements,” and Katerina Dalakoura, “The Little Entente of Women (1923–1932): Political Rights and National Politics in the Balkans” (papers presented at the International Conference on “The Campaign for Women's Suffrage: National and International Perspectives,” University of Portsmouth, 31 August–1 September 2018).


“The Foreign Policy of the Little Entente,” The Slavonic Review 5, no. 15 (March 1927), 523–536, here 523, https://www.jstor.org/stable/4202107.


Nystazopoulou-Pelekidou, “O Alexandros Papanastasiou kai i Valkaniki Synennoisi.”


Eduard Benes, Five Years of Czechoslovak Foreign Policy (Prague: Orbis, 1924), 12–19, reprinted in Documentary History of Eastern Europe, ed. Alfred J. Bannan and Achilles Edelenyi (New York: Twayne, 1970), 283–291.


On this initiative of the Czechoslovak feminists, see Gabriela Dudeková Kováčová's article in this Forum.


The argument that women's involvement in the exercise of power would bring different mores to political life and positively affect humanity had been frequently featured in feminist discourses since the late nineteenth century, and particularly during the interwar period. According to Efi Avdela, it was primarily projected as a questioning of the dominant—and tested—male political practice, which had proven wholly disastrous. Efi Avdela and Aggelika Psarra, O feminismos stin Ellada tou Mesopolemou: Mia anthologia [Feminism in interwar Greece: An anthology] (Athens: Gnosi Press, 1985), 29, 37.


Ioannidou, “I Feministiki Mikri Antant,” 2.


“The Foreign Policy of the Little Entente,” 523–536.


“I anakoinosi gia ti Mikri Antant ton Gynaikon,” 3.


Ibid., 2.


“Malka Zenska antanta” [Little Entente of Women], Zensky Glac [Women's voice] 19–20 (1923), 3–4. On the Bulgarian feminist accusations that the LEW followed LE policy, see the article by Krassimira Daskalova in this Forum.


See Gabriela Dudeková Kováčová's article in this Forum.


Various means were adopted by the LEW and set out in its charter and in decisions on the implementation of its aims and dissemination of its work: setting up working groups; interventions (with memoranda and proposals) into the legislative work and policies of the governments of member countries on the subject of women's rights; the establishment of collaborations between the countries; representation on the boards of international feminist organizations; and activities geared toward the publicizing and dissemination of its aims and work.


“Oi dromoi pros tin Eirini: I Omilia tis kas Avras Theoropoulou sto Synedrio tou Beligradiou,” 4.


“To B’ Synedrio tis Mikris Antant ton Gynaikon” [The second LEW conference], O Agonas tis Gynaikas 2, no. 14 (1924), 2; “To erchomeno Synedrio tis MAG” [The next LEW conference], O Agonas tis Gynaikas 2, no. 13 (1924), 8.


Contemporary Social History Archives (ASKI), F2–K1 & K2, Collections of Maria Svolou and Ioannis Svolos; “To G’ Synedrio tis Mikris Antant ton Gynaikon” [The third Little Entente of Women conference], O Agonas tis Gynaikas 3, no. 25 (1925), 14, and no. 16 (1925), 1; “Apo tis ergasies tou Synedriou” [From the conference], O Agonas tis Gynaikas 3, no. 16 (1925), 7; “Apo tis ergasies tou Synedriou” [From the conference], O Agonas tis Gynaikas 4, nos. 46–47 (1927), 12.


“Apo tis ergasies tou Synedriou tis MAG: Apopseis tou Ellinikou Tmimatos sto oikonomiko erotimatologio” [From the LEW Conference: The responses of the Greek section to the economic questionnaire], O Agonas tis Gynaikas 5, nos. 46–47 (1927), 10–12; Maria Svolou, “To D’ Synedrio tis MAG” [The fourth LEW conference], O Agonas tis Gynaikas 5, nos. 46–47 (1927), 1–3, here 2; “Programmata kai apofaseis tis MAG: Apofaseis os pros tis Oikonomikes scheseis metaxy ton choron tis MAG” [The LEW project on economic relations among LEW member states], O Agonas tis Gynaikas 5, nos. 46–47 (1927), 7–8, here 8.


ASKI Archive, F2–K1, Collection of Maria Svolou.


“I Omilia tis kas Avras Theodoropoulou sto Synedrio tou Voukourestiou,” 8.


“Oi dromoi pros tin Eirini,” 3.


Avra Theodoropoulou, “Epitropi gia tin Eirini: I Ekthesi tis kas Theodoropoulou” [The peace committee: Mrs. Theodoropoulou's report], O Agonas tis Gynaikas 46–47, no. 15 (1927), 4–6, here 4–5.


Ibid., 4–6.


“Programmata kai Apofaseis tis MAG: Programma Eirinistiko” [Decisions and programs of the LEW: The peace program], O Agonas tis Gynaikas 4, nos. 46–47 (1927), 7–8, here 7.


Avdela and Psarra, O feminismos stin Ellada tou Mesopolemou, 17–93; Katerina Dalakoura and Sidiroula Ziogou-Karastergiou, I ekpaideusi ton gynaikon—Oi gynaikes stin ekpaideusi (18os–20os ai): Koinonikoi, ideologikoi kai ekpaideutikoi metaschimatismoi kai I gynaikeia paremvasi [Women's education—Women in education (18th–20th centuries): Social, ideological, and educational transformations, and women's interventions] (Athens: Hellenic Academic Libraries, 2016), 290–299, http://hdl.handle.net/11419/2585 (e-book).


ELIA Archive, Arxeio Athinas Gaitanou-Gianniou [Collection of Athina Gaitannou-Gianniou].


Eleftheria Papastefanaki, “Roza Imvrioti” (MA thesis, University of Crete, 2012).


Avdela and Psarra, O feminismos stin Ellada tou Mesopolemou, 27–28.


Ibid., 66–70; Athina Gaitanou-Gianniou, “Gyro apo tin psifo” [On women's suffrage], Hellenis 2, no. 10 (1922), 243, and 5, nos. 6–7 (1925), 135–137; Athina Gaitanou-Gianniou, “Yper tis dimotikis psifou” [In support of the municipal vote], Hellenis 8, no. 2 (1928), 38–39.


Athina Gaitanou-Gianniou, “I stasi mas pros tin psifo” [Our position on the issue of women's suffrage], Socialistiki Zoi [Socialist life] 15 (1930), 2; Athina Gaitannou-Gianiou, “Mas edothi I dimotiki psifos” [We have been given municipal suffrage], Hellenis 9, nos. 6–7 (1929), 140–141.


Avdela and Psarra, O feminismos stin Ellada tou Mesopolemou, 57–58.


For further details on the relations between political parties and feminist organizations in Greece, see Maria Repousi, “O choros ton gynaikon: Politika kommata, gynaikeies organoseis kai omades” [Women's space: Political parties, women's associations and groups], in Istoria tou neou ellinismou 1770–2000 [History of modern Hellenism from 1770 to 2000], ed. Vasilis Panagiotopoulos, vol. 10 (Athens: Ellinika Grammata, 2004), 121–144; Aggelika Psarra, “Feministries, sosialistries, kommunistries: Gynaikes kai politiki ston Mesopolemo” [Feminists, socialists, and communists: Women and politics in the interwar period], in Venizelismos kai astikos eksygchronismos [Venizelism and bourgeois modernization], ed. Georgios Mavrogordatos and Christos Chatziiosif (Heraklion: University of Crete Press, 1998), 67–82.


The Greek governments were criticized by other Balkan politicians for their policy of turning to the League of Nations for the resolution of the problems that Greece faced with Balkan countries, as was the case with Bulgaria; in 1925 Greece had turned to the League of Nations regarding border and minority issues raised by Bulgaria.


Sfetas, “Valkanika Symfona Filias, 1913–2011”; Stratos Dordanas, “Valkanika Symfona Filias, 1912–1941” [Balkan treaties of amity, 1912–1941], in Valkania 1913–2011: Ekato chonia thyelles kai Chmaires [Balkans 1913–2011: A hundred years of turmoil and chimeras], ed. Nikolaos Mertzos, Spyridon Sfetas, Ioannis Zoukas, et al. (Thessaloniki: Kyriakidis Brothers, 2012), 119–126; John S. Koliopoulos, “Greece and the Balkans: A Historical Perspective,” Southeast European and Black Sea Studies 2, no. 3 (2002), 25–31, https://doi.org/10.1080/14683850208454702.


Both Alexandros Papanastasiou and Eleftherios Venizelos, as well as the rest of the opposition leaders, expressed strong objections to the signed Balkan Pact, as it did not fulfill the goals of the Balkan Conferences, while putting Greece at risk of war. See Sfetas, “Valkanika Symfona Filias, 1913–2011,” 104–106; Stefanos Chelidonis, “Symfono Balkanikis Synennoisis” [The Balkan Entente], I Kathimeni [Daily] (21 February 2010), 30.


Nystazopoulou-Pelekidou, “O Alexandros Papanastasiou kai i Valkaniki Synennoisi”; Tufan Turan, “The Rise of the Concept of a Balkan Pact and the First Balkan Conference,” History Studies—International Journal of History 4, no. 4 (2012), 433–446, here 434–438.


“I Proti Balkaniki Diaskepsi” [The first Balkan conference], O Agonas tis Gynaikas 6, no. 118 (1930), 1.


“I anakoinosi gia ti Mikri Antant ton Gynaikon,” 5


Sharp and Stibbe, “Women's International Activism during the Inter-War Period, 1919–1939,” 163–172; Ann Taylor, Anne Cova, and June Purvis, “International Feminisms,” Women's History Review 4, no. 4 (2010), 493–501.

Contributor Notes

Katerina Dalakoura is Associate Professor at the University of Crete (Greece). Her research and teaching relate to women's and gender history (nineteenth–mid-twentieth centuries). Her specialties are the social history of women's education, women's social activity and feminisms, and print cultures in the Ottoman Empire and Greece. She has published five books (two coedited), translated two books, and is coeditor of the Greek book series Gender History (Athens: Gutenberg), established in 2017. Her recent research projects focus on digital history (construction of digital tools for women's and gender history) and on feminisms and politics in the interwar Balkans. ORCID: 0000-0002-1460-3318; Email: dalakoura.katerina@gmail.com.

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