Post-war women’s international conference
1945 WIDF Founding Congress – Paris.
The events of pre-1939 and going back to times of the rise of fascism in Europe signaled the vast difference in the position of women in the society, for example, where racism and sexist ideology existed in Nazi Germany, or in the old traditional countries elsewhere.
The disastrous and horrific outcome of 6 years of war, eventually, led to the mass unity of women, in all continents, with the specific goal and agenda of trying to fix the past wrongs and make a better future, with the aim of ever lasting peace, fighting fascism, anti-colonialism and of course the fight for women’s rights. These were the main goals that united all the women during the participation in an international conference in France: the first Women’s International Democratic Federation (WIDF) that took place in Paris, in the “Palais de la Mutualité” and is viewed by some as the largest and most important of all women’s international organizations of the post-war era.
The event took place during 5 days from November 26th to the 30th of 1945. The event attracted over 800 delegates from close to 40 countries who represented 81 million women at the time. The event was summarized on the first day of December during a meeting in the “Vélodrome d’Hiver”.
The main objective and struggle of the women’s cause was for the defending of women’s rights, equality among the men and women (in wages, work, training and education for example), strengthening the physical and mental health and conditions of the young, promoting unity and friendship among women worldwide.
Even today, 70 years after the first international conference aimed to achieve equality, women in many parts of the globe still face the same lack of equality and degradation that existed back then; we can see this clearly in African and Asian countries for example.
As mentioned above, the event gathered hundreds of delegates from around the world, and the passport holder in this article was one of them participants that were sent to Paris in November of 1945.
Bulgarian passport number 594 was issued to pharmacist Theodora Alexandrova Obbova, aged 56, on November 2nd 1945.
An indication for the purpose of her journey or issuance of the passport can be found on page 9, where the French GRATIS visa was issued for “Délégué Bulgare au Congrès International des Femmes d’ Paris“:
Bulgarian delegate to the International Congress of Women in Paris.
Another visa, Italian, was similarly issued the previous day for transiting to the congress in France. Judging by the applied exit & entry markings inside the passport, we can get a better picture of the route she took: exiting Bulgaria on November 19th, transiting though Yugoslavia with the border markings for the 21st, and then crossing from Italy into Switzerland via Chiasso on the 23rd, with Allied Military Control border crossing inspection applied on the bottom of page 9, entering France at Saint-Louis, Haut-Rhin.
Leaving France back home was done via the French airport of Villacoublay on December 10th, reaching Sofia 2 days later.
Paging through the document we can find that Theodora attended another women’s conference the following year in Tirana, Albania. We can tell this was the case by the 1946 applied visa found on page 16 (the early post-war Albanian consular visa itself is a rare find).
Though such conferences took place during the height of the Cold War and the political struggles that existed between the countries, women’s organizations and the participants, we can still believe that they all at the end fought for the same goals that united them originally back in 1945.
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