Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Beatriz Angelo

“Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth” - Henry David Thoreau -

When Beatriz Angelo voted for the first time on the 1911 elections in a country where only Portuguese citizens over 21 years old who could read and write and also be householders were allowed to vote, I gather that this is what she thought.
            It wasn’t long until the Portuguese law was changed again, but still, the 34 – year-old woman did not give up her creed.
            A doctor, republican and feminist, Beatriz Angelo was born in Guarda in 1877. Like many she finished her studies in the city of Lisbon, starting back then her suffragist fight on women’s rights in Portugal. She was the founder of Associação de Propaganda Feminista who played a vital role on the emancipation of women.
            She politically participated in a variety of institutions from 1906 until - I dare say – her premature death in October 3rd 1911.
Beatriz Angelo was definitely a remarkable woman in Portuguese history.
            In general we conclude that Beatriz was the perfect example of someone who was not late to the law, but for others, who were so oblivious to the women’s situation in the country, the law found itself anticipated by that time.
            Even for Beatriz this truth was overwhelmingly present but still she tried to put the country at the same level as other European countries that had already fought for human rights and duties.
            The traditional focus on women domestic activities prevented them from achieving their dreams of becoming independent and of having an autonomous monetary support.
            Also, the low degree of urbanization and the persistence of family ties are the main causes for women not opting different and individualized lifestyles. This is the reality known for most part of Portuguese people. These days we find ourselves fighting for issues like gay marriage and abortion when we not yet reached the true meaning of equality between individuals.
What is it that we all women want these days? Is it so different from what we wanted 30 years ago when we all dressed with vintage gowns, obeyed to our husbands and begged for little attention? A woman’s will is a man’s will.
Some exaggerated in their definitions of feminism in an unsuccessful attempt to omit the truth of Beatriz Angelo and so many other women’s truths.
The Portuguese situation is as paradoxical as other global issues but in the end we’re just missing the break point in our heads.

Mariana Branco

February 2014

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