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Source: LZpB NRW

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NRW State Prize

Alice Schwarzer

Winner of the 2004 NRW State Prize

Alice Schwarzer (born 1942) came to prominence in the 1970s at the head of the West German women’s movement and is still Germany's public face of feminism.

As an advocate, editor and publisher she played a central role in shaping the women’s movement and advancing the cause of female emancipation. A key contribution has been made by the feminist magazine "Emma", which she launched in 1977.

Alice Schwarzer's strong commitment to the cause has made her a very controversial figure. In the early years she faced repeated defamation. A leading German weekly once reported on the systematic media nastiness towards her in an article entitled "How journalists hunter for the kill". But, today, her lifetime achievements are seen in a very different light.

The NRW State Prize she receives in 2004 takes its place alonside other tributes, including a Golden Pen trophy ("Goldener Feder"), a Celebrity "Bambi" and an honorary knighthood (Ritter der Ehrenlegion).

Alice Schwarzer was raised by her grandparents. As an illegitimate child she experienced first-hand the social injustices of 1950s German society.

She first completed a commercial apprenticeship, but then studied languages and went to Paris. She began working as a freelance journalist while studying psychology and sociology. In this period she became an active force in the French women's movement.

In 1971, having returned to Germany, she initiated a spectacular press campaign to challenge taboos on discussing abortion and to promote the pro-choice position, Women published their picture along with the open declaration "I've had an abortion".

In his tribute at the 2004 award ceremony, state premier Peer Steinbrück told the prize-winner, "In all the issues you have taken up, you have always made it clear that women's rights are human rights. .. A feminist slogan back then was "The future is female". Commenting on this in your book "Alice im Männerland. Eine Zwischenbilanz", you wrote, "I always hated that slogan. For, as undesirable as I find the male present and hope for a female future, I do not believe that women are the better (and men the worse) sex. It is simply the power relationships that give one sex more opportunity to violate the rights of the other. So in this sense I'd simply like to see a human future."

Wolfgang Hippe

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