Famous people

Kalliroi Siganou-Parren



Kalliroi Siganou-Parren was born in Platania in the Amari valley in 1859 into a wealthy family. After the rebellion in 1866 and the destruction of Arkadi Monastery the family fled to Athens, where Kalliroi started her school attendance at the Soumerli School. After this she continued at The French School, and in 1878 she graduated from the Arsakeio School with full marks.

The very same year she was taken on at the Greek School of Educational Studies in Adrianoupoli (the present Edirne in Turkey), but was by the Greek Society in Odessa asked to lead the girls' school of the town. Here Kalliroi taught for two years, until she returned to Athens to marry Jean Parrén, a journalist who founded the Athenian news agency of which he was the leader for many years.

Kalliroi Parren was the first in Greece to introduce the feminist principles, which had already shown up about Europe. As she thought that she could not archieve her purpose through scattered articles in already existing newspapers, she founded her own weekly "Women's Newspaper", which she edited until 1918 when she was exiled to the island of Hydra because of her political view. Kalliroi Parren thought that the liberation of women should be done through enlightenment, and therefore the newspaper carried educational, financial, philological and artistic articles and moreover biographies of famous women and descriptions of how other countries solved the feminist problems.


The first issue was edited on March 8th 1887 and was almost snapped up, as 7.000 copies were sold in a few hours in a capital of then 65.000 inhabitants. Understandably she was met by a strong opposition from the editors of other newspapers, who attacked her in every possible way and called her "the anarchist".


Kalliroi Parren also participated in many international women's conferences, which inspired her to found various organizations, such as the "Union for Liberation of Women" which she founded in 1896. Before that she had already founded the "Agia Aikaterini Home" (1875) and the "Sunday School for Necessitous Women and Girls of the People" (1880), where women with a certain education taught other women reading, writing and elementary arithmetic. In 1896 she founded "Greek Women's Union", which had branches for education and housework and one for war widows and orphans.


In 1911 she founded the still working  "Lykeio ton Ellinidon" (Upper Secondary School for Greek Women) with its declared aim to liberate women through systematic education. The school has later opened branches all over Greece and tries to preserve and promote the local traditions (customs, clothing, folk dancing, songs, handicraft etc.). The school received a prize from Academy of Athens in 1939 for its great work, and furthermore it won first prize at the third festival of folk dancing in Mallorca in 1989.


Kalliroi Parren tried to influence the politicians to give women the right to study at the higher educational establishments. She achieved her purpose in 1895, when the first female student was enrolled as medical student at the university. Unfortunately the student was exposed to harassments in such a degree that she committed suicide.


Students from "Lykeio ton Ellinidon"
at Kazantzakis' coffin
in the Agios Minas Church in 1957  

This tragic event caused Parren to carry on her work for recognition of women's rights. She now demanded votes for women. This did not however become a fact until 1925, and only for women of more than 30 years, who were able to read and write.


In the meantime she had achieved (1900) a reduction of working hours in dressmakers workrooms, prohibition of night work and protection of children.


Kalliroi Parren also tried to influence society through literature. With her novel "Cheirafetimeni" (Liberated) from 1900 she contributed to the development of the social novel in Greece. Her second book "I magissa" (The Witch Woman) from 1901 was a sequel to the first, and the Greek poet Kostis Palamas characterised it as a "courageous and adult social novel".


When Kalliroi Siganou-Parren died in January 1940, she could look back on an active life within the liberation of women.


Bust of Kalliroi Parren
in Platania