The Dawn of Women's Rights
Austrias First Women's Rights Movement and the Artist Irene Andessner
A documentary by Walter Wehmeyer (80 min.)
It’s an astonishing fact that women in Austria nowadays still earn at an average 25% less than their male collegues in the same position.
It was during the Revolution of 1848 when the first significant protest of Austian Women demanding equal rights and wages took place in Vienna. In the socalled Battle of Prater 18 people were killed and hundreds were wounded after the intervention of the National Guard. It was the beginning of the Austrian women rights movement which firstly consisted of individual women who all fought on their own for equality.
The Austrian photo- and performance artist Irene Andessner has recently pointed to the fates and biographies of those in part little-known women. With her photoportraits she confronted the public with historical women who between 1848 and the outbreak of World War II struggeled for their right to vote and to study – or who dedicated themselves to life-tasks which were at the times completely unusual for women. Amoung others there was Marianne Hainisch who founded the first secondary school for girls, the women's rights activist Bertha Pappenheim who fought against white slavery, the first female war photographer Alice Schalek and the member of the resistance Irene Harand who publicly affronted Adolf Hitler and his book „Mein Kampf“.
After a terrible incident in which a large number of women textile workers who were on strike in New York were killed – and due to the overall unjust working conditions – the first International Women’s Day was inaugurated in Denmark on 19 March 1911. On the same day tens of thousands of women took the streets in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, England and Scandinavia. Whether it was the first women world traveller Ida Pfeiffer - the Nobel peace prize laureate Bertha von Suttner or the labour leader and first women in the Austrian parliament Adelheid Popp – all of them persued the idea which was claimed by the philosopher Rosa Mayreder: the „freedom of each individual regardless of its’ gender“.