Saturday, October 10, 2015

Penn Sardin

Although women in France did not get to vote until 1945, the Breton Joséphine Pencalet (1886-1972) was elected to the town council of Douarnenez  in 1925.  Included on the Communist list it took a few months for the authorities in Paris to notice this flagrant violation of the constitution and declare her election illegal.

Douarnenez at the start of the 1920s was a leftist stronghold, it had elected the French state's first Communist mayor in 1921 and in 1924 thousands of women working in the sardine canneries came out on strike. This song, illustrated by some superb postcards of the sardinieres, recalls their struggle.  It should also be remembered that the language of the strikers would have been Breton not French as their slogan pemp real a vo reminds us - a real was 25 centimes and their wage demand was for 1.25 francs an hour.

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