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Les Femmes et la Ville : histoire des femmes à Marseille des origines à nos jours

Les Femmes et Marseille

Presentation and Background

The Association Les Femmes et la Ville (AFV) was founded in 1989, the year of the Bicentennial of the French Revolution and of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen.

The Association was founded by Régine Goutalier, Catherine Marand-Fouquet, Eliane Richard and the then president Yvonne Knibiehler. As academic historians and teachers, and erstwhile members of the Centre d'études féminines (Centre for Women's Studies) at the University of Provence at Aix-en-Provence, they are pioneers in research into women's history and in developing a debate on the status of women in society. Since those days, the AFV, with support in the early days from CODIF, has expanded its membership. Its current president is Caroline Mackenzie, with Geneviève Dermenjian and Hélène Echinard as vice-presidents, while Linda Guerry and Renée Dray-Bensousan act as treasurer and secretary, respectively, of the Association.

AFV has developed a wide network of contacts with the various associations dedicated to social questions linked to women. In carrying out research on urban society in Marseilles, it has focused particularly on the maternal, social, economic and political role that they play. To ensure that the results of this research are brought into the public arena, AFV has regularly organized academic symposia and conferences for the general public, including:

  • Marseillaises, Les Femmes et la Ville, (Marseillaises, Women and the City) in 1991;
  • Les Femmes et la Ville, un enjeu pour l'Europe, (Women and the City, the opportunities for Europe) in 1993;
  • Citoyennes à Marseille au XXe siècle, (Women Citizens in Marseilles in the 20th century) in 1995, for the 50th Anniversary of the Right to Vote for Women;
  • Germaine Poinso-Chapuis, témoin de son temps, (Germaine Poinso-Chapuis, The First Woman in National Politics) in 1997, for the 50th anniversary of the Marseillaise who became the first woman minister in France;
  • Femmes et associations à Marseille, passé, présent, avenir, (Women and Associations, Past, Present and Future) in 2001, for the Centennial of the Law authorizing the creation of associations;
  • Les Arméniennes à Marseille, (Armenian Women and Marseilles) in 2002;
  • Madame Noilly-Prat à Marseille, une entreprise, des oeuvres, un patrimoine, (Madame Noilly-Prat in Marseilles, Entrepreneur, Patroness and Lady of Property) in 2003, for the Centennial of the death of a leading figure in the Marseilles business world;
  • Femmes, politique et société, (Women, Politics and Society) in 2005, for the 60th Anniversary of the Right to Vote for Women;
  • Bénévolat féminin et travail social, (Charity Work and Social Assistance) in 2005, first in a series of events on the theme « Marseillaises et le travail » (Marseillaises and the Labour Market);
  • Le quartier Belsunce au féminin, (Women in the Belsunce District) in 2005, as part of the Festival of Belsunce and the inauguration of the « Alcazar », the City and Regional Library.

AFV members are now working on the organization of a second conference on the theme « Marseillaises and the Labour Market », to be held in 2008. This event will concentrate on the significant contribution that the women of Marseilles have made to the City's economy. Several papers will draw on research carried out by AFV members and their partners from other associations. The conference will attract a number of experts in this field for a day of presentations and debates. AFV plans to publish these papers together with those of the first conference on Charity Work and Social Assistance in 2005.

The AFV has created two exhibitions: a Promenade citoyenne (Women and Citizenship: A Walk through History) showing how the Marseillaises were involved in civil action before having the right to vote and, for the 60th Anniversary of Universal Suffrage (First Participation in National Elections), Marseillaises, 1945, le Vote libérateur (Marseillaises, 1945, The vote for freedom). These two exhibitions were sponsored by the City of Marseilles. AFV also contributed to an exhibition organized by the GRAIF (Regional Group of Associations providing Activities and Information for Women) celebrating women scientists: « D...comme Découvreuses ». The Association's most recent production, in collaboration with Forum Femmes Méditerranée, is a card game, Femmes de Marseille des origines à nos jours (Women of Marseilles from its foundation to the present day).

Most of the AFV's conferences are followed by the publication of papers, The Association's members are regularly invited to participate in all the major literary events in the region, including Lire en fête, Figaro Magazine's Fête du livre, the Carré des écrivains, etc. It has also published the first dictionary dedicated to women in the public arena. Published in 1999, as part of the celebrations marking the 26th Centennial of the founding of Marseilles, Marseillaises, vingt-six siècles d'Histoire is an excellent example of the AFV's vocation : to draw attention to and celebrate the past, present and future of women in Marseilles.