She was motivated by the love for one man, one family, and two countries, and the belief in universal hope. Before, during and after being First Lady, Margarita a name bestowed on her by her Father-in-Law influenced global leaders and rallied the everyman to engage in dialogue with compassion and understanding.
Most notably, she changed how women were viewed and encouraged them to take action in their personal lives as well as to contribute to their society. As she pressed for such initiatives as family law, legalization of abortion and sex education, and nuclear disarmament, she faced considerable criticism from the press and those who believed her efforts to change attitudes towards women disrupted the family unit, thereby affecting the stability of a State.
Nevertheless, with her persistence, and a keen ability to organize and inspire people, Margarita demonstrates how one person can instigate significant change, and the ripple induced can surprise the future. Her story is told by a filmmaker from California, who goes through a process of a self-discovery of her own identity as an activist. Through interviews and hosted forums, the driving force of the film is in the voices of progressive thinkers throughout Greece, the United States, and beyond.
Margarita is now years-old, and this is the time to tell her incredible story. As she stood on the shoulders of her heroine Eleanor Roosevelt; it is time for others to stand on hers. It has been quite a trip, one packed with many firsts.
There was a chill indeed in the air, and the place I call home - the only place since the passing of my second parent many years ago - remains buzzing with country music, laughter and love. The ground swell she set into motion has widened my eyes and expanded my heart a wee bit more.
Be it as donor, artist, laundress, chef, researcher, archivist, confidant e , makeshift-theapist, or subject matter — all of you are Comrades. I hope what we did here in Greece will make a difference, and be entertaining, as well. Hours of footage accompanies me back to Los Angeles to start the next phase. Turkey travel was not in the cards this trip. That said, the women there would not be deterred, and sure enough gathered to film the circle.
Most everything Margarita acted towards relates to the cultivation and protection of children. Such a sensory experience finding old documents and books, with scents described as woody, smoky even chocolaty prickling our noses. Her kindergarten comrades were charged to read a poem in front of their peers. Not finding this acceptable, teacher Miss Peggy banished him to facing the wall, in a chair with hands bound behind him. Young Maggie stood up and made known in her innumerable way even then that this was injustice.
Alas, she found herself alongside the boy, also facing the wall with hands restrained. She declared to her parents later that day that she would not return to school.
Though her mother did her best to persuade her, the parents allowed her to stand her ground…for a week. Then, her father whisked her up to deposit her back to the school.
For the rest of the term, she made enough guest appearances to finish; yet she never was asked to acquiesce. This experience carries great resonance for her still. She was aware of her actions, with no fear of consequences. The support from her parents empowered her to believe that doing right was right, and that her courage would carry strength and impact.
Who would have known that this was only the beginning. The overall trip was yet again extended, though time still feels fleeting. This film continues to be built from a grassroots movement So, yes, please keep spreading the word!
In the past, I partook in feasts amongst Americans alongside Margarita which included the traditional fare. Yet, this one would be quite different. After weeks of planning, yesterday I arrived to Athens airport to travel to Turkey with the mission to immerse myself into the arms and brains of women who worked with Margarita. Rather ironic for an American to travel to Turkey on Thanksgiving.
Yet, best laid plans… There and then, I was forbidden to fly. Turkey now requires US citizens to have a tourist visa or GR residency card. Implemented on the 20th was why I and most had no idea about it.
A few heard word that this might become the case but there was no official announcement that it had indeed, and the airline has no responsibility to inform its travelers.
Today started at the Turkish Consulate, where I was turned away until I submitted an application on-line and set an e-appointment. Then, I am told that it will take hours to be issued a visa. The demands are insane, and I am not saying that as an entitled American. Not only must I show my bank statement and payment stub, have travel health insurance, issue a new biometric photo, and more - I need an invitation letter and she-who-invites-me must disclose their income. Application is still in process but with the amount of compilation required, overall paperwork and expenses, combined with the tenuous turnaround near my return flight, this leg may not be possible to capture.
Well, may not be possible the way first planned. Not to be deterred, one of the women Nur suggests that they still gather, with me in absentia. Or, perhaps via Skype. So, a solution exists. We will know how this plays out in the next few days. Off to Corinth tomorrow to be with Margarita and discuss - what else - Turkey! Thankful for all of you. Factual correction from last post: I am here with Margarita!
Her spirits are good, inspired by what all of us are accomplishing. Currently we are experiencing a thunderstorm, so we keep extra warm with eachother's company. Tomorrow we pick up filming from where we left off in Her memory of the diplomats she engaged with, women she worked alongside, and the family she matriarch-ed is strong — filled with spirit and anecdotes.
I included below her extended biography. I invite you to think of a question that you would like to ask. She knows full well that none of this would be possible without you, so it is another way to bring everyone together. So, email me, and I will weave it into our dialogue: I extended my trip to give more time to structure the Turkey and Cyprus events.
Relieved that donations keep trickling in so that this can be accomplished. Thank you yet again for your support. The more I learn how little her accomplishments are known; more so, how the propaganda to date keeps alive vicious misconceptions, the more it is clear that her story needs to be told. She was president and is now the Honorary President of a peace organization founded in called Center for Research and Action on Peace.
She served as President from She was influential for pressing for numerous reforms enhancing the legal and social status of women in Greek society. Reforms include legalizing abortion, abolishing the dowry system, introducing civil marriage, mandating equal pay for women, enabling women to keep their own name after marriage and acquire equal rights over the children in case of divorce, getting pensions for farm women.
She has promoted equality in many other ways, such as pressuring for the adoption of elementary school text books which do not perpetuate sexual stereotypes, signing on behalf of the Greek government of the United Nations Declaration Against All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, encouraging the establishment of family planning centres, and training women for political action and public positions.
All through her work as president she kept the organization active on issues of peace, declaring the highest cause women can work for. An International assembly was held in Athens in to set the strategy and foundation of the network. As result of that strategy, meetings were organized with decision makers on nuclear arms and defence policies. This blueprint was presented to the American and Soviet delegations on June 1, Papandreou organized in , a group of women representing international organizations in all parts of the world, and took them to Baghdad January to work out a peace plan with the Federation of Iraqi Women in an attempt to avert war.
She has been active in the struggle for liberation of Cyprus from its Turkish occupiers, and in the campaign to remove the UN sanctions on the Iraqi people.
She has also collaborated on humanitarian actions for the people of Yugoslavia. She also presented an analysis of the Yugoslav situation in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in February A conflict resolution seminar with professional trainers took place in May In July , for the first time representatives of all sides of the Cyprus conflict took part: These have proved to be a most successful method for peace education and for building toward a world culture of peace.
This involves interviews of people who have lived the history of Andreas Papandreou during the many phases of his life. In her address, she proposed that the UN subsidize meetings for women from both sides of each international conflict to meet together, without government or diplomatic advisers, and make recommendations for resolution of the conflict. In July , she met in Syria with President Hafez Al-Assad to seek his help in freeing the hostages being held in Lebanon, as a humanitarian gesture.
In July , Ms. Papandreou was one of seven people from around the world to address the plenary session of the World Congress of Women in the U. At the time, she also met with Raisa Gorbachev to discuss the role of women in efforts for nuclear disarmament.
And again in spoke at the Convention on the Rights of Children. Special Olympics, and addressed several international forums on peace and nuclear disarmament in Brazil, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Australia and Greece. In February , Ms. While a student at the University of Minnesota, where she received her B. Margarita was born in Oak Park, Illinois in She married Andreas Papandreou in They divorced in They have one daughter and three sons.
She also heads the George Papandreou Foundation.