"To Assure the Reign of Workd and Justice"
The 'Union des Femmes' and the Paris Commune of 1871
On April 11, 1871, an "Appeal to the Women Citizens of Paris" summoned the women of the Paris Commune "To arms ! The nation is in danger." This call led to the formation of the 'Union des Femmes pour la defense de Paris et les soins aux blesses', a socialist and feminist organization devoted not only to the immediate defense of Paris , but also to the fundamental reordering of socio-economic and gender relations. Operating within a transitional and discrepant milieu, the 'Union des Femmes' leaders constructed a socialist feminist critique of both the pre-Commune capitalist world and the nascent socio-economic order of the Commune. The Union des Femmes members seized the revolutionary moment to begin to reconceptualize and reorganize women's labor. They saw the recognition of their lives as full participants within the public, laboring world as essential to their access to economic independence, their primary goal. Facing the immediate reality of working class women 's economic needs , and their understanding of the Commune as a developing, evolving society, the 'Union des Femmes' took a pragmatic and transitional stance, while planning for their ideally conceived future.