Queen Marie of Romania 1875 – 1938
She was the last Queen consort of Romania as the wife of King Ferdinand I, and the mother of king Carol II.
After the outbreak of World War I, Marie urged Ferdinand to ally himself with the Triple Entente and declare war on Germany, which he eventually did in 1916. During the early stages of fighting, Bucharest was occupied by the Central Powers and Marie, Ferdinand and their five children took refuge in Moldavia. There, she and her three daughters acted as nurses in military hospitals, caring for soldiers who were wounded or afflicted by cholera. On December 1, 1918, the province of Transylvania, following Basarabia and Bukovina, united with the Old Kingdom. Marie, now Queen consort of Greater Romania, attended then Paris Peace Conference of 1919, where she campaigned for international recognition of the enlarged Romania.
Constantin Argetoianu, one of the constant and fierce critics of the queen is also the one that manages to synthesize in few words the role of Queen Marie and the place that she deserves in the history pages:
“No matter how many mistakes had committed Queen Marie, before and after the war, the war remains her page, a page that she can be proud of in the history books. We find her in the trenches among the ranks of combatants, we find her in hospitals and health posts among the wounded and sick. We find her present in all meetings trying to do some good. She did not know the fear of bullets and bombs, as she did not known the fear and loathing for plague or impatience with efforts so often unnecessary, caused by her desire for the better. Queen Marie fulfilled the duty on all fronts of her activities, but above all that of encouraging and raising the morale of those who surrounded her and who had to decide, in the most tragic moments, the fate of the country and its people. One can say that during our pilgrimage in Moldova, Queen Marie embodied the highest aspirations of Romanian conscience. The way in which she influenced Romania’s entrance in the war in 1916 and again in 1918 when almost only because of her King Ferdinand did not ratify the disastrous Bucharest Peace Treaty, the Queen sat as a foundation of unified Romania as one of the greatest figures of our national history.”
—Constantin Argetoianu, Pentru cei de mâine: Amintiri din vremea celor de ieri
Alexandrina Cantacuzino 1876 – 1944 is a symbol of the struggle for the emancipation of women in Romania. She carried social and political activities during the interwar period.
She founded the National Women’s Romanian Orthodox Society, aimed as an alternative form of education for girls, besides the famous schools of Housekeeping from those times.
11 years later, in 1921, Alexandrina Cantacuzino founded the National Council of Women of Romania, along with other prominent names such as Elena Odobescu, Ella Negruzi and Calypso Botez. Two major achievements of this organization were the Horticultural and Farming School in Bucharest, where the daughters of the invalids and war orphans were educated, and Women’s House, a shelter for women in desperate situations. This provided legal assistance to women and in 1933 this organization inaugurated a hostel offering shelter and meals.
On the plane of politics, she founded a party of women, designed to give them political representation and education which would allow them to enter politics.
Mariana Drăgescu (b. September 7, 1912, Craiova – d. March 24, 2013, Bucharest)
She flew her own plane on both fronts and saved 1,500 lives during WWII. She was part of the White Squadron, a Romanian unit of sanitary planes piloted by women, the only one of this kind in the world at that time. After the campaign in Crimea, she was the only female pilot on the Western Front and continued to fly valiantly to save people until the last day of the war.
The daughter of an officer and a music teacher, she attended high school in Lugoj. She enrolled at the Faculty of Physical Education, but had to withdraw shortly after because her family could not provide the necessary funds. Passionate about sports (skiing, swimming, canoeing, climbing), she graduated the equitation school in Bucharest in 1935.
In 1939, she bought her own private aircraft, a Messerschmitt M 35, and she participated in several competitions, including Aurel Vlaicu’s Cup. Half of the cost of the airplane was supported, according to the custom of the time, by the Ministry of Air and Marine, and for the other half, she took a loan from Marina Stirbey, loan that she returned in 1940, using the advanced payments received as a pilot of the White Squadron White. The plane burned in 1944 in a hangar at Chitila, following a US bombing.
Mariana Drăgescu was one of the heroines of a documentary film called “White Squadron” directed by Serban Creanga in the Romanian Army in 2004.
Many people have described Mother Teresa as being a saint. And maybe they were right. Mother Teresa has dedicated her existence to taking care of the poor and helpless, becoming a true icon of the purest forms of altruism. Through her charitable missions, Mother Teresa was able to care for more than a thousand people sick or dying in Calcutta. Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic religious congregation, which in 2012 consisted of over 4,500 sisters and is currently active in 133 countries.
Her true profoundly disinterested and selfless actions brought her a well-deserved Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.
Doctor Ana Aslan 1897 – 1988 is one of the most recognized women in Romania. She was a member of the Romanian Academy and a specialist in gerontology.
She is considered to be a pioneer of gerontology and geriatrics in Romania. In 1952, she founded the Geriatric Institute of Bucharest. This institute was the first of its kind in the world and was recognized by the World Health Organization.
When she was in her teens, she graduated from the Central School in Bucharest and heads up to her first passion in life: aviation. However, Ana Aslan chose medicine and, in order to convince her family to let her go to college, she went on a hunger strike.
Before the invention of the Gerovital H3 formula, she took care of the injured soldiers during the First World War.
While investigating the pain-relieving effects of procaine in patients with arthritis, Ana Aslan discovered that the drug also produced other beneficial effects, such as an improvement of skin and hair aspect, better memory, and a general feeling of well-being. Based on this discovery, she developed the anti-aging drug Gerovital H3 (1952). Later, together with Elena Polovrăgeanu, she created an improved formula marketed as Aslavital (1961).
The product is patented in 30 countries and used to treat chronically ill patients.
The first woman engineer in Europe
Elisa Leonida Zamfirescu was born in Galați, Romania on November 10, 1887. Her father, Atanase Leonida, was a career officer while her mother, Matilda Gill, was the daughter of a French-born engineer. Her brother was the engineer Dimitrie Leonida. Due to prejudice against women in Science, Zamfirescu was rejected by the School of Bridges and Roads in Bucharest. In 1909 she was accepted at the Royal Academy of Technology in Berlin, Charlottenburg. She graduated in 1912, with a degree in engineering. It has been claimed that Zamfirescu was the world’s first female engineer, but the Irish engineer Alice Perry graduated four years before Zamfirescu, in 1908.
After she returned to Romania, Zamfirescu worked as an assistant at the Geological Institute of Romania. During World War I, she joined the Red Cross. Around this time, she met and married chemist Constantin Zamfirescu, writer Duiliu Zamfirescu’s brother.
After the war, Zamfirescu returned to the Geological Institute. She led several geology laboratories and participated in various field studies, including some that identified new resources of coal, shale, natural gas, chromium, bauxite and copper. Zamfirescu also taught physics and chemistry.
Zamfirescu retired in 1963, at the age of 75. She died at the age of 86 on November 25, 1973.
The first woman doctor in law, the world’s Sarmiza Bilcescu. Born in Romania, on April 25, 1867, she is the first woman to be admitted to the Law School in Paris, which she graduated in 1890, from where she got her PhD.
Born into a good family, schooled in Paris, in times in which teachers avoided training women in order not to create a “mess”, Sarmiza Bilcescu put Romania on the map of “innovations”. In 1890, a young lady named Sarmiza Bilcescu made an unusual request to the County Bar Association, who, at the time, included Bucharest. The request Bilcescu made, aged just 23 at that time, was to be registered as a lawyer. The novelty of the situation came from the fact that, until then, there were no countries in Europe with female lawyers.
“No women!… Science is for men!” said Paul Sonday, professor at Sorbonne, when Sarmiza Bilcescu entered the university auditorium.
Sofia Ionescu Ogrezeanu 1920 – 2008 – the world’s first female neurosurgeon
She was born on April 25, 1920, in Fălticeni, Suceava County.
Supported by her mother, she applied to the Medical School in Bucharest in 1939. During her first year, she studied ophthalmology. She graduated from the Faculty of Medicine in Bucharest in 1945 as a student of Dimitrie Bagdasar.
While preparing for a career in Fălticeni as an internist doctor, Sofia Ionescu became the first female neurosurgeon in the world. During her fifth year of college, in 1944, Sofia Ionescu made her first brain surgery to a child who was the victim of bombing.
She obtained a doctorate in medicine and surgery in 1945. She teamed up with Constantin Arseni and Ion Ionescu, her husband, at Hospital No. 9 in Bucharest, where she served until 1990, when, due to her having difficulties seeing, she accepted retirement.
Known worldwide for her outstanding contributions in the field of neurosurgery, especially for operations on the spinal cord and brain, and her scientific work published in Acta Belgica Surgery, Journal of Surgery, Neurology, Psychiatry, Neurology, Neurosurgery, Revue Roumaine d’Endocrinologie.
The number of articles and presentations in the country and abroad is around 120.
Raluca Ripan 1894 – 1972 is the first woman who was elected as a member of the Romanian Academy
She founded one of the most prestigious research institutions in the country – “Institute of Chemistry”, in Cluj-Napoca, which, starting with 1994, bears her name.
Raluca Ripan was born on June 27, 1894, in Iasi, but perfected her career in Cluj-Napoca, where she established one of the most important institutes of the city.
After becoming the first woman elected member of the Romanian Academy, in 1948, the researcher founded the Institute of Chemistry of the Romanian Academy in Cluj, in 1951, which is now under the Ministry of Education and Research.
Her rich scientific activity gave her the opportunity to connect with numerous renowned scientists and scholars from many other countries. Professor Raluca Ripan has conducted a comprehensive and sustained training of professionals at different levels: as professor of chemistry, as dean and rector.
Following the recognition of her merits, she was selected “Honorary Member of the Society of Industrial Chemistry” in France and “Member of the German Society of Chemistry”. The Doctor Honoris Causa award offered by the University “Nikolaus Kopernicus” in Torun, Poland was an event of great significance, both for Raluca Ripan and for Chemical Science in Romania.
Raluca Ripa died on December 5, 1972 in Cluj-Napoca.
Maria Rosetti (n. Mary Grant, 1819 Guernsey – d. 1893) was the first woman journalist in Romania.
Born in England, in Guernsey, was the wife of the politician and publicist CA Rosetti.
She took part in the Revolution of the Romanian Country, in 1848, and she is known to be both a fighter for Romanians’ rights and a fervent supporter of women’s rights.
Starting 1857, she worked as editor of several newspapers, magazines, and almanacs, especially for the ”The Romanian”, which was founded by her husband. She edited the weekly literary magazine ‘Mother and child’ (July. 1865 – Apr. 1866), which included articles and translations in support of child education. During the war in the Balkans (1877-1878), she established the “Committee for Women”, with the help of which she managed to raise substantial funds for the army and for hospitals.
Around 1850, Rosenthal completed one of his most celebrated paintings, România revoluţionară (“Revolutionary Romania”), a national personification showing a woman in Romanian folk costume, which was also a portrait of Maria Rosetti.
Maria Rosetti was subsequently involved in organizing charity events and public ceremonies: in 1866-1867, she raised funds to combat famine, and in 1871 she organized celebrations in the Moldavian locality of Putna. Her fame increased, especially after 1875, when C. A. Rosetti joined the National Liberal Party’s leadership. As a journalist, she contributed articles promoting women’s liberation. In 1877, as Romania proclaimed its independence and joined the Russian Empire in the anti-Ottoman war, Maria Rosetti rallied funds to aid the wounded, establishing and managing the hospital in Turnu Măgurele.
Maria Teohari (22 apr. 1885 — 1975) was the first woman astronomer in Romania.
Only some of the curators and intellectuals still remember Maria Teohari in Giurgiu, Romania’s first female astronomer. In a time when women were regarded with skepticism in the scientific field, Maria Teohari succeeded, through hard work and ingenuity, in demolishing all prejudices.
Maria Teohari has devoted her life to science and research. She has distinguished herself especially in astronomy, researching sunspots and the Halley comet, among other things.
The lack of appropriate equipment seriously affected her eyes, which brought her one step closer to blindness.
Forced to withdraw from the Astronomical Observatory, she followed a career in education as a teacher of astronomy and mathematics at “Lady Ileana High School” in Bucharest.
Wangari Maathai (b. April 1, 1940, Nyeri, Kenya, d. September 25, 2011) was an African warrior committed to environmental protection and women’s rights. On October 8, 2004 she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace, as an appreciation of her “contribution to the development of democracy and peacekeeping”, considering that “peace can not exist without a functional environment”.
Wangari Maathai studied Biology and Veterinary Medicine, then continued her studies in Pennsylvania (USA) and in Germany. She obtained her PhD in biology at the University of Nairobi. In 1977, she founded the environmental movement “Green Belt” in order to protect forests in Kenya that are threatened by uncontrolled logging which leads to climate change and soil erosion. Within this movement, she managed to plant 20 million trees, mobilizing women, in particular in her projects. She was called the Trees’ Mother. In 2003, she was named Deputy Minister at the Department of Environmental Protection. Her peaceful but consistent work has contributed significantly to the development of democracy in Kenya.
For her merits, Wangari Maathai received other awards including: the election as Woman of the Year in 1983, the Alternative Nobel Prize (1984), the United Nations Prize for African Leaders (1991), Petra Kelly Prize for environmental protection awarded by the “Heinrich Böll Foundation “(2004), the Sophie Prize for Environment and Development (2004).
Nicoleta Nicolescu (d. July 10, 1939, Bucharest) was an important member of the Legionary Movement, with the rank of Commander of legionary fortresses, serving as head of the girls (legionary organization of women, the equivalent of nests whose members were only men). Between 1933 and 1936, she was advanced to the position of adviser to Corneliu Codreanu.
Arrested along with many other comrades in 1938, she was tortured in the cellars of the Capital Police for months.
Nicoleta Nicolescu began her studies at the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Bucharest in 1930, joining the Legionary Movement the same year. In 1933 he was appointed by Codreanu in the female section of the Legionary Movement, a minority section in the Legion (in 1937, out of the 487,000 members, only 8% were women). Nicoleta Nicolescu’s vision on the role of women in the Legion, that women ought to deal only with household activities to keep their femininity, was diametrically opposed to Codreanu’s or Michael Stelescu’s opinions. Nicoleta Nicolescu was an important partisan of the involvement of women in the work of the Legion in joint actions with men, including paramilitary actions or sabotage. Nicolescu remained in charge until 1936 when she was advanced to the position of adviser of the Captain, the leadership was taken over by Lucia Rose. She was arrested in late 1938 along with other members, without any specific charges. She was tortured and murdered by the authorities, the body was cremated and the ashes buried anonymously.
Geraldine “Jerrie” Mock (November 22, 1925 – September 30, 2014) – the first woman to circumnavigate the planet alone – died yesterday, September 30, 2014, at the age of 88.
Nicknamed “the flying housewife”, Mock was the first woman to fly solo around the world, in 1964, in a Cessna 180 single-machine motor, (registered N1538C), christened the “Spirit of Columbus” and nicknamed “Charlie.” The trip began March 19, 1964, in Columbus, Ohio, and ended on April 17, 1964, in Columbus, Ohio, it took 29 days, 21 stopovers and almost 22,860 miles (36,790 km). She was subsequently awarded the Louis Blériot medal from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale in 1965. In 1970 she published the story of her round-the-world flight in the book Three-Eight Charlie.
While that book is now out of print, a 50th anniversary edition was later published including maps, weather charts and photos. Three-Eight Charlie is a reference to the call sign, N1538C, of the Cessna 180 Skywagon Mock used to fly around the world. Before her death, Mock, mother of three children, resided in Quincy, Florida. Despite her incredible achievements, Mock’s name is largely unknown today, even at the 50th anniversary of her historic flight.
The United States Air Force named a street in honor of Mock at Rickenbacker AFB (presently Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base and Rickenbacker International Airport) in Lockbourne, Ohio (near Columbus).
Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986)
One of the most important philosophers of the twentieth century existentialist, Simone de Beauvoir is also known for her personal and intellectual relationship with Jean Paul Satra. Her book, “The Second Sex” has created a mini social revolution, overturning social values, blaming the exaggerated traditionalism which governs history and led society during those times. The book took the readers from agony to ecstasy (depending on the sex of the reader) and was one of the defining works of the feminist movement.
De Beauvoir was intellectually precocious, fueled by her father’s encouragement; he used to say: “Simone thinks like a man!” Because of her family’s circumstances, de Beauvoir could no longer rely on her dowry, and like any other middle-class girls of her age, her marriage opportunities were put at risk. De Beauvoir took this opportunity to do what she always wanted to do while also taking steps to earn a living for herself. After passing the baccalaureate exams in mathematics and philosophy in 1925, she studied mathematics at the Catholic Institute and literature/languages at the Sainte-Marie Institute. She then studied philosophy at Sorbonne, writing her thesis on Leibniz for Léon Brunschvicg. De Beauvoir was the ninth woman to have received a degree from Sorbonne at the time, due to the fact that French women have only recently been allowed to join higher education.
Viviana Grădinaru (34 years old), born in Vaslui, has revolutionized the world of science by developing for the first time, last year (2014), a technique that can transform the body of a mouse transparent. The method that will facilitate research in biology and medicine is used to study the structure of the nervous system or how cancer spreads in the body.
After she graduated from the “Mihail Kogălniceanu” High School in Vaslui, Viviana Grădinaru settled in the United States, where she continued her university studies.
Dr. Gradinaru also helped train scientists from all over the world in the Optogenetics Innovation Laboratory (OIL) and in summer courses at Cold Spring Harbor.
In 2012, she became professor at the University of California Calteh. Her hard work in research and brilliant ideas allowed Viviana to be co-opted into the elite group of University of California, where one of the research laboratories is named after the young scientist originating from Vaslui.
Maria Virginia Andreescu Haret
Maria Virginia Andreescu Haret (b. June 21, 1894 – d.6 May 1962) was the first woman in the world to reach the rank of inspector general architect, status first recognized during of the XVI Congress of History Science held in Bucharest in 1981.
She was the niece of the painter Ion Andreescu and was married to the son of Spiru Haret.
Maria Virginia Andreescu was left motherless at the age of 9, had to raise her three brothers and take care of the household. She graduated from a private high school, taking her degree from “Mihai Viteazul” highschool. At the age of 18 came first at the Higher School of Architecture. In parallel she studied Fine Arts and has made a large number of watercolor paintings which today are part of the collection of the Romanian Academy Paintings Library.
From 1923, she worked in technical service of the Ministry of Education, from where she retired in 1947. During the interwar period, she represented Romania at the international congresses of architecture in Rome, Paris, Moscow and Brussels. For her work she received numerous awards which affirm the value of her work.
Among her most important achievements are a number of blocks on Calea Victoriei (among the first to use reinforced concrete), administratively and underground dependencies of Baneasa Airport, “Gheorghe Şincai” High School and “Cantemir Voda” National College in Bucharest.
Alina Frăţilă is the first female president in the history of the International Society for Dermatological Surgery. Four medical academies in the US and Germany have her among its members and she has been invited to hold presentations over time to more than 300 national and international conferences. In 2007, she received the German Prize for Innovation, a year before becoming an honorary citizen of her native city, Otelu-Rosu. Periodically, Alina Fratila returns to Romania where she is associate professor at University of Medicine and Pharmacy Bucharest, teaching dermatology.
She graduated from the Medical University of Timisoara and practiced in the Surgery Clinic No.1 learning from master Pius Brînzeu “the Romanian father of phlebology” (A.Davy).
Prof. Alina Frăţilă uses her latest techniques regarding veins, VNUS closure, laser therapy and aesthetic interventions for breast augmentation, liposuction, lipectomy, facelift and treatment of wrinkles in the Jungbrunnen-Klinik clinic in Bonn, Germany,.
“The talent and intuition aesthetics are the most important qualities of a surgeon, and that is the art of surgery; but also the spirit of criticism and constant desire for perfection, the desire to invent new techniques as gentle and atraumatic as possible. Then comes the work, experience and exercise, which are even more important as the talent is deficient” (Alina Fratila)