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Meet Our Heroines: Sofia Nădejde

Updated: Mar 29, 2021

Sofia Nădejde (1856-1946), the iconic pioneer of women's rights in Romania, joins the fabulous group of European leaders of the monumental struggle for gender equality featured in the online campaign Meet #OurHeroines, run by EUNIC New York. The association of the EU’s cultural institutes and general consulates in NYC presents the campaign on the social media platforms of its 40-strong members and associated members network throughout International Women's Day 2021, celebrated on March 8.

Novelist, playwright, translator, journalist, and women's rights activist SOFIA NĂDEJDE was the first woman in Romania to be allowed to take her Baccalaureate exam in a boys' high school, the first woman to run a literary magazine and the author of the first feminist novel in the history of Romanian literature.

Sofia Nădejde was the daughter of Vasile Băncilă Gheorghiu and of Pulheria Profira Neculce, heiress of the literary testament of chronicler Ioan Neculce and the sister of painter Octav Băncilă. She studied at the Glowaska boarding school in her hometown and obtained her baccalaureate in Iasi. In 1876 she married the publicist Ioan Nădejde, a member of the socialist movement in Romania. Through him, she encountered the socialist ideology. She was particularly interested in the status of women and their role in society.

In 1879, she made her journalistic debut with the article The Question of Women, in Femeia Română (The Romanian Woman). Her literary debut took place in 1885 with the short story Două mame (Two Mothers), published in Contemporanul (The Contemporary). Sofia Nădejde was a highly active supporter of women’s rights and published her arguments in favor of the feminist cause in publications such as Contemporanul, Femeia Română, Basarabia (Bessarabia), Drepturile omului (Human Rights), Muncitorul (The Worker), and Evenimentul literar (The Literary Event) which she also ran, among others.

She brought to the attention of the Romanian reader fashionable western topics in the western, such as the relationship between intelligence and brain size or the relationship between education and civic emancipation. A fervent supporter of the feminist cause, Sofia Nădejde campaigned for the spiritual upliftment of the Romanian woman, a sine qua non condition of her public affirmation. She asserted herself as a woman of letters, publishing novels, short stories and theatre plays.

Since 2018, the Art No More Association has been organizing the Sofia Nădejde Days and Literary Prize for Women Witers. The project is the initiative of poet and journalist Elena Vlădăreanu.


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