Historical Figures

Clara Zetkin, feminist journalist

Clara Eissner (1857 – 1933) who became Clara Zetkin was a German journalist, politician and feminist figure. She is notably at the origin of the international day of women's rights on March 8.

Activist for equal rights between women and men

Born on July 5, 1857, Clara Eissner is the daughter of a teacher and is also destined to teaching. She quickly became interested in politics, frequenting feminist and socialist circles. In 1878, she joined the Socialist Party but it was banned by Imperial Chancellor Bismarck and she had to go into exile in Zurich.

In Zurich, Clara meets Ossip Zetkin, a Russian revolutionary. They did not marry but had two sons, Kostja and Maxim, and she took his name. In 1882, they left for Paris and Clara actively participated in the creation of the Socialist International, campaigning for complete equality of rights between women and men. She fights in particular for women's right to vote, for the right to divorce and free union and for gender equality.

Creating International Women's Day

Ossip Zetkin died in 1889. Back in Germany, Clara Zetkin founded Die Gleichheit in 1891. (Equality ), a journal of socialist women, which she published until 1917. Clara convened the first international conference of socialist women in Stuttgart in 1907, and was appointed president of the international secretariat of socialist women. In 1910, she convened the second international conference of socialist women in Copenhagen where she proposed the creation of "International Women's Day", in particular to campaign for women's suffrage. The proposal, which gave rise to International Women's Day on March 8, was immediately adopted.

Foundation of the German Communist Party

Clara Zetkin becomes involved in the SPD, the socialist party, and becomes close to Rosa Luxemburg. Both opposed to the First World War, they participated in the creation of the Spartacist League and organized many peaceful actions, for which she was arrested in 1915. In 1916, Rosa Luxembourg and she played an active role in the creation of the Communist Party German.

In November 1918, German women obtained the right to vote and to be elected. In 1920, Clara Zetkin became a deputy for the KPD, the Communist Party of Germany. From 1921 to 1933, she was part of the leadership of the Communist International. Between 1927 and 1929, she was a member of the country's central committee. In 1932, as Dean of the Assembly, she called on the people to fight Nazism. After the Nazis came to power and the Communist Party was banned, she was forced into exile again. Clara Zetkin died on June 20, 1933 near Moscow.