Gabriela Dudeková

Returning from politics to social work? Women’s movement during the WWI in the Kingdom of Hungary: Slovak national activists versus Hungarian radical feminists.


The aim of the paper is to compare the forms and goals of female activism in the Kingdom of Hungary in two aspects: first, before and during the First World War; and second, between the Slovak national women’s movement and the Hungarian radical feminism.

In the first phase of the war, the state quite successfully mobilized women under the motto “sacrifice to the fatherland”. Therefore, even the pre-war radical feminists focused more on social work and women’s duties framed into the traditional patriarchal gender model. However, the war regime strengthened women’s position in the family as breadwinners and in the public space as part of workforce. In the latter phases of the war the radicalization of women’s movement’s goals in politics started to be more visible – mainly its aim for suffrage and peace.

The war reversed the position of the Slovak national and the Hungarian radical women’s organizations. The radical Hungarian Feminist Association (Feministák Egyesülete) became politically suspicious during the war because of its involvement in the international peace movement, especially by its president Rosika Schwimmer, and due to other activities (it was monitored by the police and even its women’s congress became prohibited in 1916). On the other hand, the only Slovak women’s association and journal Živena, which was accused of anti-state orientation before the war, became a successful national platform for Slovak culture. This platform partially substituted activities previously organized by Slovak political representatives, who declared the politic of passivity during the war.