On January 19, 1953, Eleni Skoura was the first woman elected to the Greek parliament, in a historic moment for the all-male institution.
After many decades of struggle, Greek women finally won the right to be elected to Parliament on May 28, 1952.
It then took more than twenty years for the principle of gender equality to be established writing, in the Constitution of 1975.
Almost seventy years later, a judge, Katerina Sakellaropoulou became the first-ever female President of Greece in 2020.
Born Eleni Papachristou in Volos in 1896, Skoura finished high school in Volos, Thessaly before settling in Thessaloniki in 1915. She studied vocals and later married lawyer, Dimitrios Skouras.
Skoura was very active in her civic and patriotic duties. During the Greek-Italian war she was president of the “Shirt of the Soldier” organization. In the summer of 1942, she was arrested by the Germans and imprisoned along with her husband and her brother Apostolos Papachristou.
After the war, she was honored by King Paul with a military medal for exceptional acts. In 1950 she received a law degree, following in the footsteps of her husband.
On January 18, 1953, she was elected to the Prefecture of Thessaloniki with her party “Alarm”. She was sworn in on the 19th, and the following day she was the first Greek woman to set foot in the Greek Parliament as an MP.
Eleni Skoura was the only woman among 299 men in Parliament
In a 1989 interview with the magazine Tachydromos she described her first day in office.
“I was the only woman among 299 men. Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos that show the welcome I received. MP’s from all parties were congratulating me and standing up and applauding me.”
She recalls how the newspapers described her as she sat wearing an all-black tank top among her male colleagues the next day. “A cute, serious lady appeared in Parliament.”
Her first official statement Skoura was as follows:
“I am deeply touched by this victory, achieved after a hard fight. My thoughts remain focused with great gratitude to Army General Papagos [the Greek prime minister at the time] and my colleagues. I will try to do my utmost best and prove worthy of the trust of my constituents, whom I thank warmly.
“I know that as the first and only woman in the House, I have a great responsibility and many duties. We have a lot to do for Greek women, especially in social welfare.”
Eleni Skoura died in 1991 at 95.
Although women have made great strides since Skoura, Greece is next to last among all European nations in terms of women in politics, according to research prepared recently by Eurostat, the EU’s statistical agency.
Greece is just above tiny Malta in the table of the share of female members of the government (senior and junior ministers) in the EU.
Only 22% of the 300 seats in the parliament are occupied by women representatives. This makes Greece seventh from the bottom in the European league.
Related: Women in Politics: Greece Next to Last in Europe
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