Irina Paert

The Inaugural Conference of the Baltic Network of Women's History gathers in Tartu

On 8 April, the conference “Out of the Shadows. Unearthing Women’s Stories of the Past” will be held in the main building of the University of Tartu. At the event, a network of historians interested in promoting women's history – the Baltic Network of Women’s History – will be established on the initiative of a group of women scholars from universities across the Baltic and Scandinavian countries. Registration for the conference is open until 5 April and participation is free.

Throughout history, women have frequently faced marginalisation, discrimination, and neglect, both in their daily lives and within historical narratives, despite their significant contributions to society. This network will serve as a platform to shed light on these historical injustices and re-examine how the past has been depicted, aiming to integrate women's stories into mainstream discourse and popular narratives.

Considering that women constitute approximately half of the population at any given time, it is evident that they have played crucial roles in shaping our communities and societies. Therefore, ensuring that they receive equitable representation in historical storytelling is imperative and will take the right place in the higher education curriculum.

History has demonstrated that when women advocate for change and achieve success, they elevate the standards of inclusion and equality for everyone. Empowering women often leads to empowering those around them, catalysing broader societal transformation. Thus, the network will not focus solely on highlighting famous women from history or showcasing how women activists have catalysed social change, but also on the lives of ordinary women whose contributions to economy, medicine, culture, and education have benefitted our societies.

While Estonia has very well-developed state and societal initiatives to promote women's equality and keep gender issues on the public agenda, much can still be done to promote the historical perspective on women's lives.

The initiative for the Network of Women's History came from several women historians in four countries. Among this initiative group are scholars from the University of Tartu, Janet Laidla, Lecturer in Estonian History, and Irina Paert, Associate Professor of Orthodox Church History. The conference will bring together scholars from Estonia, Sweden, Finland, Lithuania and the UK.

The conference programme is available on the conference website.

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