Marie Popelin

Marie Popelin

Do you know this great lady from Brussels, one of the founders of Belgium's feminist movement?

When we retrace her story, we learn that Marie Popelin played a major role in the changing of attitudes, as early as the 19th century.

Marie was born in Schaerbeek in 1846. After a stint as a teacher, she began studying law at the ULB at the age of 37. Having graduated, she wanted to start to practise... but was denied the right by the Court of Appeal, simply because she was a woman!
The court stated that "the special nature of women, the relative weakness of their constitution, [...] their special role in humanity, [...] the education they owe to their children, the management of the families and homes entrusted to their care, place them in conditions that are difficult to reconcile with the duties of the legal profession and do not give them the leisure, strength or aptitudes necessary for the struggles and fatigue of the Bar".

"The Popelin Case" would signal the beginning of her fight for the feminist cause. Together with others, she founded the "Belgian League for Women's Rights" and called for the emancipation of women through publications, conferences, congresses, etc. held mainly in Brussels.