International Women's Day: in the footsteps of women who made history

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International Women's Day: in the footsteps of women who made history

For International Women's Day, we invite you to discover the portraits of six heroic women that left their mark on our modern age.

To understand the precepts behind March 8th, we have to go back to the early days of the 20th century. Many women demonstrations were being organised to claim their rights to vote, enhance working conditions and find equality between genders. The feminist struggle found a frame to develop, but will have to wait until 1917 for the International Women's Day to take place, following female workers' strikes in Saint Petersburg, when women went on asking for the return of their husbands from the front. After 1945, the day will become a symbol of ‘resistance' around the world.

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International Women's Day: in the footsteps of women who made history

Adrienne Bolland in Paris

Last-born child out of seven, Adrienne Bolland started to train as a test pilot in 1919. She earned her license soon after. She thus became the thirteenth woman allowed to fly a plane, and the first hired as test pilot. After successfully crossing the Channel between France and England, the famous aviator was also the first to fly over the Andes in extreme conditions. Adrienne then performed in a series of airshows during which she broke multiple new technical records. Known to be a committed, humanist and feminist figure, she played a role alongside her female colleague Hélène Boucher in the struggle for women rights in 1934. Her actions and freedom of speech have been overtly criticised. But she later joined the Resistance during World War II and gained new fame. If you wish to know more about her and other pioneering female pilots, head over to the Bourget Air and Space museum near Paris.

Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace
Paris-Le Bourget airport
93350 Le Bourget
www.museeairespace.fr/en

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International Women's Day: in the footsteps of women who made history

Frida Kahlo in Mexico City

Her incredible life and story made Frida a symbol in her own Mexico and beyond. Involved in traffic accident at an early age, she had to undergo multiple surgeries. It was art and love for her husband, fellow Mexican painter Diego Rivera, that kept her going. Confined to her bed for several months, she had a mirror installed over her and started to paint, using her reflection as a model, hence the numerous portraits she grew famous for. She passed away a few days after her 47th birthday. Her last painting bore the mention viva la vida! (Hail Life!). Icon of the feminist movement and committed as an artist, she saw a cult following start during her lifetime, which had a great impact on the successful sale of half her work to the Julien Levy Art Gallery in New York. If you wish to admire some of her creations, visit her childhood home: the Casa Azùl (the Blue House) has now become the official Frida Kahlo museum.

La Casa Azùl (Frida Kahlo Museum)
Londres 247, Del Carmen, Coyoacán
04100 Ciudad de México
www.museofridakahlo.org.mx

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International Women's Day: in the footsteps of women who made history

Louise Bourgeois in New York City

Louise Bourgeois was 98 when she passed away in 2010. She became an icon for many generations of women artists, for she explored during her whole life the tumultuous relationships between men and women, through her own work and experience. The extramarital affairs of her father will affect her childhood, and the experience resulted in the conception of the 1974 installation Destruction of the Father, which evokes her unbalanced family life. Her influences go back to the 1940s, when surrealist artists came to New York and abstract painters such as Pollock, Rothko and de Kooning emerged. As a feminist at heart, Louise Bourgeois took an active part in the women movements of the 1960s. Around the time when her famous Maman spider made her well-known to general audiences, the MoMA offered the first retrospective exhibition of her career, in 1982. If you'd like to delve into the life and work of this exceptional woman, we invite you to discover her foundation. Now dedicated to preserving her legacy, The Easton Foundation will welcome visitors from March 2017 onwards.

The Easton Foundation
349 West 20th Street
New York, NY 10011
www.theeastonfoundation.org

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International Women's Day: in the footsteps of women who made history

Simone de Beauvoir in Paris

French writer born more than a century ago, Simone de Beauvoir is one of the great modern minds of our times. Her writings on gender theory and equality cemented her fame. After literature studies, she very soon became an atheist and openly opposed marriage in regard to individual freedom, notably that of women. In 1949, she publishes the famous Second Sex, a description of the condition of women that tackles the issue of abortion. Fast becoming a best-seller, this daring essay spurred the famous line ‘one is not born, but rather becomes, a woman'. A spokesperson of the feminist movement, she fought for women till her death in 1986.
In 2008, the Simone de Beauvoir prize for women's freedom was created as a tribute and awards a work, a person or an action that defends and advances on women's freedom around the world. If you are passionate about writing, follow on her footsteps at the Café de Flore, in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. This mythical place had been the artist's stronghold for years. She used to go there quite frequently, alongside her companion, philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre.

Le Café de Flore
172 boulevard Saint-Germain
75006 Paris
www.cafedeflore.fr

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International Women's Day: in the footsteps of women who made history

Eva Perón in Buenos Aires

Born María Eva Duarte de Perón, Evita was a living icon in Argentina, taking direct action in her country's history. Destined for an ordinary life that would have made her mother happy, Eva decided to take her fate into her own hands and live her dreams. With the soul of an artist, she arrived in Buenos Aires in 1935 and tried to work as an actress. To no avail. Full of ambition, she did not give up and became the voice of a nation at the mike of a radio show. In 1944, she met colonel Juan Domingo Perón, who later became Argentina's President. They got married and the couple became spokespeople for the working class. Eva Perón then took a deep interest in her fellow countrymen's daily life and created a foundation to help the poor, hospitals, orphanages and shelters for single women. On the women front, she also fought and won for their right to vote. A true legendary figure in her country, she died of cancer at 33, leaving a nation in despair. Decades later, her myth is still alive and powerful. A museum devoted to her legacy was incidentally opened in Buenos Aires.

Eva Perón Museum
Lafinur 2988
Buenos Aires
www.museoevita.org

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International Women's Day: in the footsteps of women who made history

Lady Diana in London

More commonly referred to as Lady Di, the Princess of Wales became one of the most famous women in the world, following her marriage to Charles in 1981. Very much in the media eye, she turned to the feminist movement, acting as a model for women around the globe. At the end of the 1980s, she devoted more and more time to humanitarian aid, especially for people suffering from AIDS. In 1992, she met Mother Teresa in India and took part in several trips across Africa to help children. She died in a brutal car crash in Paris. To pay your tribute, visit Kensington Palace, her former place of residence. Walk over to the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain and the Diana Memorial Playground in Hyde Park.

Kensington Palace
Kensington Gardens
London W8 4PX