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Marie Popelin: Google Doodle celebrates the first Belgian woman to receive a law doctorate and women’s activist’s 174th birthday

Google Doodle celebrates the 174th birthday of Belgian lawyer and early feminist political campaigner Marie Popelin, the first woman to receive a law doctorate in Belgium, on December 16, 2020.

Who was Marie Popelin?

Marie Popelin
Marie Popelin

Marie Popelin was born on 16 September 1846 into a middle-class family in Schaerbeek close to Brussels. Popelin worked with Isabelle Gatti de Gamond in the improvement of women’s education and, in 1888, became the first Belgian woman to get a doctorate in law.

Marie Popelin was knowledgeable by the guidelines of the time and spot. She at first pursued a career in education and proceeded to teach at Belgium’s first secondary school for girls, Cours d’Education pours Jeunes Filles (Education Course for Young Girls).

Alongside her sister Louise, Marie Popelin taught in Brussels at an institution administered by the leading feminist teacher Isabelle Gatti de Gamond from 1864 to 1875. In 1882, Marie Popelin got back to Brussels to head the middle school close by Laeken, however was eliminated from her post the next year.

Be that as it may, at age 37, Marie Popelin had a change of heart and wished to study law instead. Popelin registered at the Free University of Brussels, studying law. Finishing her studies as a Doctor of Laws in 1888, Popelin was the first woman to do as such in Belgium.

Marie Popelin applied for admission to the bar association (Barreau) which would permit her to argue cases in the Belgian courts. Her application was refused, albeit no law or guideline expressly prevented the admission of women to the bar. Her offers to the court of appeal in December 1888 and, in November 1889, to the Court of Cassation were ineffective yet generally announced in the Belgian and foreign press.

After her admission to the bar was refused, Popelin proceeded to have an active career as the leader of the Belgian League for Women’s Rights.

The “Popelin affair” (Affaire Popelin) exhibited to the allies of women education that basically providing young ladies with admittance to higher education was lacking except if further, legitimate, changes were additionally made. The affair added to the change from educational feminism to a political women’s movement in Belgium. In Belgium, women were just allowed to practice as lawyers from 1922.

Marie Popelin partook in two women’s activist conferences in Paris in 1889 and set up the Belgian League for the Rights of Women (Ligue Belge du Droit des femmes) in 1892.

Marie Popelin’s endeavors to make an independent women’s activist movement outside the political pillars, not connected to the Catholic, Liberal, or Socialist parties, were just an incomplete achievement. The National Council of Belgian Women (Conseil national des femmes belges), made in 1905, got just restricted support from the women’s sections of the political parties.

Regardless of this tepid initial reception, a considerable lot of Popelin’s targets were met before her demise in 1913. These legislative changes didn’t, in any case, incorporate two of Popelin’s most significant demands: universal adult suffrage, and equivalent admittance to the liberal professions for women.

Marie Popelin died on 5 June 1913 while never picking up admission to the bar at aged 66 in Ixelles, Brussels, Belgium.

Popelin has been celebrated from various perspectives within Belgium. She highlighted on a Belgian postage stamp during the International Women’s Year of 1975, and a street in Saint-Josse-ten-Noode was named after her in 2008.

In 2011 Marie Popelin, along with the first Belgian female doctor, Van Diest was portrayed on the Belgian two-euro commemorative coin for the first centenary of International Woman’s Day. In De Grootste Belg, a 2005 Flemish TV poll to find the best Belgian ever, Marie Popelin was ranked 42nd.

Modern studies recognize Marie Popelin’s central role in the formation of a Belgian feminist movement.

On December 16, 2020, Google Doodle, sketched by Belgium-based visitor artist Emilie Timmermans, observes Marie Popelin’s 174th Birthday.

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