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From women's organisations to autonomous women's groups

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Following the restoration of democracy, the structure of the female movement became quite diverse. Women’s organisations whose operation was interrupted due to the military junta or suspended as a reaction to the junta were reestablished. The Greek League for Women’s Rights (Syndesmos gia ta Dikaiomata ton Gynaikon/SDG) is an illustrative example. The SDG was founded in 1974 and participated actively in women’s activities during the period 1974-1990. It also played a crucial role in establishing the new institutional framework on gender equality.

At the same time, nation-wide women’s organisations were established in connection to or as part of political parties. This category includes three large-scale nation-wide women’s organisations: The Democratic Women’s Movement (Kinisi Dimokratikon Gynaikon/KDG) politically linked to the Euro-communist party (KKE Interior), the Federation of Greek Women (Omospondia Gynaikon Ellados/ OGE) linked to the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Union of Greek Women (Enosi Gynaikon Elladas/EGE) politically linked to PASOK. Alongside them, other organisations with political references and connections are being established (Movement of Women in Resistance/ Kinisi i Gynaika stin Antistasi, Progressive Union of Greek Mothers/ Proodeftiki Enosi Miteron Elladas etc.).

During the same period, political parties, youth wings and trade unions gradually establish women’s sections or committees focusing on “work for the ladies”. In fact, the women’s sections of parties and trade unions interact -albeit not always harmoniously- with the positions and practices of women’s organisations and the feminist movement. However, in the case of the so-called “renewing left” (ananeotiki aristera), women’s collectives participate in the feminist movement and emerge as points of pressure allowing for the feminist discourse to influence party policies.  

Autonomous women´s organisations and groups emerge as an alternative to the prevailing political landscape of a mass female space where political parties employ, educate and guide women through the so-called “mass” women´s organisations (mazikes organoseis) or party mechanisms. Autonomous women´s interventions attempt to think and act beyond parties and male influences. They argue that this way of operation is a precondition for feminist policies. The first organisation of the autonomous feminist movement is founded in Athens in 1975 under the characteristic title “Movement for the Liberation of Women” (Kinisi gia tin Apeleftherosi ton Gynaikon/KAG). This was an initiative of left-wing independent women. In 1978, the KAG starts publishing the newspaper For the Liberation of Women (Gia tin Apeleftherosi ton Gynaikon). In the following year, women’s groups are established in the Law School, the Faculty of Philosophy, the Medical School, the Faculty of Biology, the Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences, higher technical schools etc. During the 1980s, there is a proliferation of independent women’s groups in districts of Athens or in major provincial cities, including groups focusing on specific subjects. These groups will help create a diverse, dynamic feminist movement, the movement of the period of transition to democracy (Metapolitefsi).