2021 is a milestone year for all of humanity, as the younger generations, and especially those who belong to democratic nations, are now accustomed to facing a new invisible enemy, called Covid-19, which imposed a new normal last year.
For the first time in a whole year, humanity as a whole sees the fundamental human rights, the foundation of which was sought across the generations, hearts have been broken and blood has been shed everywhere, being sacrificed for the sake of the “general health interest”.
Restrictions on freedom of movement, distancing, isolation, and a mask that covers our faces, our expressions, and our emotions are just some of the elements that will historically mark the year of 2021. But the year 2021 will be engraved in the hearts and in the memory of all of us for one more reason; the Greek people have every right, prouder than ever, 200 years later, to celebrate the outbreak of the Greek revolution against the Ottoman Empire and the restoration of democracy and freedom to the country that has always been their cradle.
200 years later, the year 2021 is dedicated to the anniversary of the Greek Revolution, both words of feminine gender, and this text is dedicated to every woman around the world who seeks to find her inner strength and freedom, to every mother around the world who is called to pass on principles and to create free people, to every woman around the world who is an example of morality and spirit freed from the shackles that modern society is trying to impose, to every woman of 1821 who with excessive courage defied death and sacrificed herself for our free future.
Greek and European women, at a time when the words women’s rights and equality seemed completely unknown and inconceivable, perhaps offensive to that time, seeking a better future for their children, a future where every child will be free to choose himself colors to paint … a future where we will choose our fate even if it is the wrong one… a future where we can love without fear… a future where we will belong only to ourselves! They fought, they revolted, they suffered, they tore, they sacrificed at fighters… they became invisible fighters… on the side of the front-line fighters…
These are the Souliotisses who preferred to die free, falling from the cliff, dancing together with their young children… For these women, the choice of death was equivalent to freedom, as it was the only way to escape the harsh reality, which was characterized by all kinds of violence and misery. For these women, the possibility to choose the way of their death was the answer to the imposition of the way of life that they had to follow according to the orders of the Turks… For these women, it was their “NO” in the humiliation they experienced from the rapes and trafficking in the Turkish slave markets.
One of these free women, Laskarina Bouboulina, a dynamic fighter of the Revolution who contributed in every way to it, with a high sense of patriotism and defying the fear of loss and death, offered both money, ammunition, and ships as well as her son, who was killed in the battle against the Turks.
One of these free women was Manto Mavrogenous, who participated in the military operations, disposed of her property, and mobilized with her letters the female European population in order to stand by the Greek nation.
One of these free women was Evanthia Kairi who awakened the Greek women of America and the philhellene population to assist in the struggle for freedom.
These and many other female figures of our country inspired and mobilized the whole world… they are the ones who taught women that they have the power and the resources to stand equal to men… they are the ones who sowed Revolution and Freedom in the souls of many women and future generations.
Thus, philhellenic women all around the world take action, cooperate excellently with men to achieve the desired result, and sometimes establish autonomous women’s philhellenic committees.
In France, among others, stand out: Madame de Staël, Elisabeth Santi Loumaki – Chenier who contributed to the establishment of the Hôtel Hellénophone, where new members were recruited to prepare for the revolution and weapons were sent to the Greek secret pre-revolutionary area. Madame de Récamier, supported the Greek struggle with her own resources and fundraising, the poets Amable Tastu and Delphine Gay or de Girardin, the Princess of Orleans Louise Marie Thérèse Charlotte Isabelle d’Orleans, raised around 3,000 Francs in favor of the Greeks, Sophie de Marbois-Lebrun, Duchess of Placentia, strengthened financially the military needs of the Greek national movement and established educational infrastructure in the newly formed Greek state after the liberation of the nation.
In Sweden, Princess Sophia Albertina played an important role with the founding of the Women’s Philhellenic Committee, turning the palace into a center of Philhellenism that attracted many women who rushed to support the movement of the Greeks against the Turkish rule.
In Denmark, Karen Margrethe “Kamma” Rahbek mobilizes Danish society and calls it to action in favor of the Greek movement, while in Switzerland, Anna Eynard – Lullin with even greater zeal establishes a philhellenic women’s committee, where philhellenic performances, receptions, and concerts were being held aimed at raising money and other items to strengthen the Greek revolutionary nation.
In Poland, the work of Emilia Sczaniecka, also known as “Bubulina of Poland” was remarkable with the establishment of the “Committee for Aid to the Greeks” and the holding of fundraisers to support the orphan children of the victims of the revolutionary movement or the wounded Greeks.
In England, the historian Mary Shelley, who learned the Greek language, played a determined role, she wrote pieces of work dedicated to the Greek Revolution and favorably influenced the movement of the Greeks as the powerful men of that time.
In Germany, female figures such as the writers Amalia von Imhoff-Helvig, Friederike Brun, Louise Brachmann, Baroness Julie Charlotte Dorothea Therese von Richthofen, Johanna Kinkel, and others published many pieces of work inspired and dedicated to the Greek Revolution and the education of the young girls, while some of them also founded schools.
In Romania, the movement of Dora d´Istria, known as Elena Ghica (Eleni Gika – Masalsky, 1828-1888) and daughter of Prince Michael Gika, was particularly important as she supported the movement of the Cretans and the return of the Ionian Islands to Greece.
The Revolution of 1821 is a great event not only for the Greek nation but also for the rest of the world. People of all religions, social backgrounds, nationalities, and genders got together and fought for FREEDOM. Women stand up for themselves, overcome their fears, get together and fight… In France, the “Greek mania” of the time reaches the point of influencing fashion itself. The so-called “Robes de dame à la Bobeline” clothes are created as a source of inspiration for the Greek fighters.
Maxim Gorky said in his piece of work “The Mother”: “Give me better mothers to give you a better future.”
I will dare to adjust:
“Give me free mothers in mind and heart to give you liberal and democratic states….”
A big thank you to all of you who fought and are still fighting… because thanks to you I am writing this text.
Head of Human Resources HICD France