8 March is International Women’s Rights Day and the perfect opportunity to focus attention on an impressive, but a little-known woman: Anna Kuliscioff. Anna Rozenstein was born around 1855 in Crimea into a wealthy Jewish family who converted to Orthodox Christianity. At the age of 18 she went to Zurich in Switzerland to study philosophy. There she met her husband, with whom she returned to Russia. However, as a recidivist, her husband was sent to Serbia. So, in1877, she again fled to Switzerland under the name of Anna Kuliscioff, which in her home country is a surname of poor people. All her life she was persecuted and had to flee several cities and countries. From Switzerland, she fled to Paris and then to Florence. After she left her husband, she decided to study medicine in order to help women. That is why she decided to become a gynecologist.
She returned to Berne, then went to Pavia. In Naples, she concluded her academic career, graduating with a thesis on the bacterial origin of puerperal fewer. A discovery that would save many lives.
On a Sunday at the end of April 1890, Anna Kuliscioff gave a conference entitled “The Monopoly of Man”. An hour and a half later, the conference had the impact of an earthquake. Anna requested that women have to be educated, able to vote like men, work in all fields and receive equal pay to men. Anna did not see her dream of women’s suffrage come true, but even today not all her demands have been met.
In 2022, more than ever, it is time to listen to these requests and not forget the women who fought for other women’s rights and health (and to think of the Ukrainian women and men who are fighting for their freedom).
The Center for the History of Women Philosophers and Scientists tries to give a voice to all these intellectual women. During the summer semester, there are some lectures on women philosophers, for example, the lecture given by Dr. Jil Muller, on Émilie du Châtelet and Descartes.
In Italy, the right for women to vote only came into force in 1945, in France in 1944, in Belgium in 1948, in Luxembourg already in 1919 and in Germany in 1918. This non-homogeneous development in Europe can also be seen in the United States, where the general vote for women and minorities was only recognised in 1985, although it already existed in various states before that date. This success is due to many courageous women, who have often been supported by certain religious institutions and groups, such as the Quakers. Let us focus on such courageous women, such as Jane Addams, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony or Lucy Stone.
Jane Addams was a pioneer: as philosopher, sociologist, writer and social activist, she was engaged in causes such as women’s suffrage and world peace. After a graduation from the Rockford Female Seminary, she studied medicine but left it because of poor health. During a tour to Europe with her friend Ellen G. Starr, she visited a settlement house and in 1889, together with Starr, she leased a large home built by Charles Hull, in Chicago. They moved in, and created the Hull-House, where the two young ladies raised money for the poor, took care of children and nursed the sick. By its second year of existence, Hull-House was host to two thousand people every week, and the Hull-House grew, as did also Jane Addams’ reputation. As she gained notority, she was drawn into several civic responsibilities, and became, among others, the president of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. In Dezember 1931, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
The Center for the History of Women Philosophers and Scientists tries to give a voice to all these intellectual women. During the summer semester, there are some lectures on women philosophers, for example, the lecture given by Ana Rodrigues on Mary Wollstonecraft, by Felix Grewe on Donna Haraway and by Dr. Aaron Wells on Mary Shepard.