Mona Siegel: Men Alone Prepare the Future
“Women of all countries are painfully impressed by the fact that men alone prepare the future, that not one of them has been summoned to take part in the task of reorganization, and that the international code of which they will have to bear the consequences will have been established entirely without them; once again people will speak in their name and decide for them without consulting them.”
With this protest, issued in March 1919, Western feminists put the peacemakers on notice that women were not going to allow the historic peace negotiations to unfold without them. In the months that followed, thousands of women in Europe and across the globe congregated, spoke out, and took to the streets, claiming the right to help shape a new international order after the First World War.
Paris was the unofficial center of world government in 1919, and some of the most influential female activists of the day converged there. This lecture will focus on two among them: French suffragist Marguerite de Witt Schlumberger and Chinese feminist and nationalist Soumay Tcheng. Both came to Paris to represent women’s interests at the Peace Conference. Both would leave a permanent mark on the terms and outcome of the Versailles Treaty. Schlumberger and Tcheng marked women’s formal entrance on the modern diplomatic stage, even as they gave rise to a truly global movement for women’s rights.