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Franzosenzeit - Frauenstein, Oberösterreich (13/25)
Frauenberufliche Lehranstalten Frauendreißiger


Women's Movement: The historical shifts in women's position in society have been documented in codifications such as the Codex Theresianus (1766) or the General Code of Civil Law (1811), which reflect the long-term dismantling of the social domination of men and the gradual emancipation of women.

The education of women played an important role in this process and was made possible to a great extent by the General School Ordinance of 1774. A few schools for the daughters of military officers and schools run by the Sisters of Loreto, etc. (Vocational Schools for Women) provided girls with secondary education (in particular girls of the nobility).

The Imperial Primary School Law of 1869 made schooling for girls obligatory, and teacher training, the first qualified occupation for women, was made available. Marianne Hainisch founded the association "Österreichische Lehrerinnen und Erzieherinnen" ("Austrian Women Teachers' and Governesses Association" in 1869. The first associations promoting more challenging occupations for girls (vocational schools for women, courses for needle-point and embroidery, cooking or sewing schools) were formed after 1867.

In 1892 an association for broadening educational opportunities for women, which had been founded in 1888, established a university preparatory course for girls. However, graduates of the course did not receive the designation "certified to attend University" until 1901. Women students were able to register for courses in the Humanities and Social Sciences Departments in 1897, medical and pharmacy studies were opened to women in 1900, the remaining courses in 1919. Doctoral degrees attained at foreign institutes had been recognised since 1896.

In the agricultural sector, as well as in trade, women have always worked out of necessity. Similarly, women have worked in industry since the 18th century due to economic necessity, das well as the close proximity of metal-working and textile industries to their homes. Nevertheless, female workers were not common in industry until after the end of the 19th century. The Lower Austrian conference of trade unions held in 1895 demanded that women be excluded from having an occupation; however, fields of activity occupied solely by women, such as managing kindergartens and nursing (at first a profession carried out by nuns) soon developed. During World War I women's numbers in the workforce increased rapidly, especially in the public sector, in the postal services, the railway system and in the industrial sector.

At the time of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, the Law of Associations prohibited "foreigners, women and minors" from being members in political associations; in response separate women's associations were founded, such as "Bund der österreichischen Frauenvereine" ("Federation of Women's Associations"), an organisation of 13 liberal and civic women's associations, which was established in 1902 by M. Hainisch; the Federation of Women's Associations joined the "International Council of Women" in 1904 and ran numerous schools for girls in the lands of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. In addition to Hainisch (chairwoman until 1918), B. v. Suttner was also active in the Federation of Women's Associations. Some 100 member associations belonged to the Federation when the alliance was dissolved in 1938.

Separate associations were established by the Social Democrats, including the "Arbeiterinnen-Bildungsverein" ("Association for Women Workers") founded in 1890 and the discussion and reading association "Libertas" (founded in 1893, chairwoman A. Popp). In 1898 a Social-Democratic women's conference was held; however, A. Popp's "Freie politische Frauenorganisation" ("Free Political Women's Organisation") was not affiliated with the Social Democratic Party. Starting in 1893 "Arbeiterinnen-Zeitung" ("Newspaper for Female Workers") was published as a supplement to the Social Democratic "Arbeiterzeitung". Women played a minor role in trade unions (in 1903 only 5,580, in 1908 only 20,047 members).

Catholic Women's Associations were also founded at the end of the 19th century; at first associations were organised within the dioceses; in 1907 came a large-scale consolidation as the "Katholische Reichsfrauenorganisation" ("National Catholic Women's Organisation"), KRFO. After a period when women from the aristocracy dominated the organisations, the "Verband christlicher Hausgehilfinnen" ("Association of Christian Domestic Servants") was founded in 1909 on the initiative of J. Weiß. The "Christlicher Verein zur Hebung der Frauenbildung" ("Christian Association for the Promotion of Women's Education") established a secondary school for girls preparing for university studies in 1910 in Vienna. Following the Catholic Women's Day of 1910 the magazine "Die österreichische Frau" ("The Austrian Woman") was published. In 1911 H. Burjan succeeded in creating an organisation of women home workers. In 1912 an international Catholic Women's World Conference was held.

General suffrage was not granted to women until 1919. Until 1919 all women, except female land owners, were prohibited from voting. In the First Republic there were only a few women deputies in municipal councils and in the Nationalrat. Alma Motzko was a city councillor in Vienna from 1918 to 1934. Although women's organisations were included in the Social Democratic Party (approximately one-third of the party members were women), the women's organisations were not recognised by the party leadership. The representation of women's organisations was even weaker in the other parties.

In the area of education, girls were permitted to attend secondary schools which prepared for university entrance after 1918; there were also upper secondary schools for girls and classes solely for girls. During World War II there were also coeducational classes. The number of women teachers also increased, although in several provinces they were still forbidden to marry (Tirol, Vorarlberg, Salzburg) or marriage privileges were strictly limited (Styria, Carinthia). During World War II the number of women students at universities also rose considerably. During World War I women were employed in the public sector in the railway system, trams, etc., as well as in the military, as assistants in the news service and especially in the medical corps.

When associations and interest groups were reestablished on a democratic basis in 1945, continuity in leadership from the years before 1934 was also reestablished in the women's movement; within the Austrian Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) with R. Jochmann and Ferdinanda Floßmann, within the Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) with L. Solar. In municipal councils and provincial assemblies women were still generally the exception; similarly the number of female Members of Parliament rose only gradually (1970: 8 of 165, 1971: 11 of 183, 1975: 14, 1979: 18, 1983: 17, 1994: 43 : 16 SPÖ, 9 FPÖ, 8 ÖVP, 6 Green Party, 4 Liberal Forum). The first towns to elect women mayors were Gloggnitz and Groß-Siegharts. The first female member of the federal government was G. Rehor, from 1966 to 1970.

A new phase in the women's movement began around 1968. Demands included legal abortions, the elimination of sexual repression, economic independence from men and increased political representation. This was taken into consideration when Federal Chancellor Kreisky appointed a minimum of two, sometimes even three, and between 1979-1983 even six women to cabinet posts. In 1990 the State Secretariat of Women's Affairs was elevated to ministry status. The number of women in the provincial governments also increased (in Vienna G. Fröhlich-Sandner was Deputy Mayor from 1969-1984; there were two female members of government in Lower Austria, and one woman each in the provincial governments of Burgenland, Styria and Tirol). The composition of the Nationalrat and Bundesrat as well as of the provincial assemblies and municipal councils changed in a similar way. Increasingly more women are assuming leadership positions within the parties. In the large parties quota regulations (up to 40 % of seats won by a party are reserved for women) were introduced in the mid-eighties; however the actual make-up of the party lists never reflected this goal. In 1994 two parties presented women, H. Schmidt (Liberal Forum) and M. Petrovic (Green Party) as leading candidates in the parliamentary elections.

Existing structures in education and the workforce underwent changes parallel to those in political representation. The number of female secondary-school graduates and female university students rose dramatically. Teaching posts in primary schools and secondary schools are held mainly by women (1985: 75 % in primary schools, 60 % in secondary schools), in social service professions and in the medical field the percentage of women is especially high. Women occupy around 64 % of jobs in the service sector. Although women's empowerment in social, business and political life has increased dramatically, the lack of women in leadership positions, for instance, shows a clear imbalance regarding their influence.

Literature: H. Hieden, Die Frau in der Gesellschaft, 1983; Bericht über die Situation der Frau in Österreich, Frauenbericht 1985; R. Pauly, Frauenemanzipation in Österreich, 1986; M. L. Angerer (ed.), Auf glattem Parkett, Feministinnen in Institutionen, 1991; Beharrlichkeit, Anpassung und Widerstand. Die sozial-demokratische Frauenorganisation und ausgewählte Bereiche sozialdemokratisscher Frauenpolitik 1945-1990, ed. by K.-Renner-Institut, 1993; Die Familie, exhibition catalogue, Riegersburg 1993; D. F. Good (ed.), Frauen in Österreich, 1994.

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