The Hundred Women Project is an art project dealing with women’s history, managed by Tara Anand.
I was invited among the 10 illustrators to present 10 inspiring and influential female-identifying personalities of their country of origin, and below are
Simina's 10 women from Romania. This project helped me discover these truly badass characters, some crassly overlooked in our local history.
The project was pitched as part of Daisie.com's Wonder Women campaign and won as one of the 6 projects to receive funding and support from the app!
Clara Haskil was a classical pianist, renowned as an interpreter of the classical and early romantic repertoire. It is either unknown or ignored, much like other queer figures in Romanian history, that she was a lesbian woman. She studied at the Conservatory of Paris and graduated at age 15 with a first prize, moved to Switzerland after World War II and was later, at the age of 47, appointed Chevalier of the Legion of Honor by the French state for her performances.
An esteemed friend of Haskil, Charlie Chaplin, described her talent by saying "In my lifetime I have met three geniuses; Professor Einstein, Winston Churchill, and Clara Haskil. I am not a trained musician but I can only say that her touch was exquisite, her expression wonderful, and her technique extraordinary.” In a 2013 interview, Pope Francis mentioned Haskil as one of his favorite musicians, especially when performing Mozart.
Ileana Sonnabend (nee Schapira) was a Romanian-born American art dealer of 20th-century art. She opened The Sonnabend Gallery in Paris in 1962, through which she popularized
American artists like Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein in Europe. When her first husband, American-Italian art dealer Leo Castelli, proposed to her, Sonnabend famously asked for a Matisse watercolor instead of an engagement ring.
In 1970, Sonnabend Gallery opened in New York where it became one of the major Soho galleries that turned it into an international art centre well into the 90s. The Peggy Guggenheim museum in Venice and the MoMA exhibited her collection in exhibitions that paid tribute to her legacy.
Lucia Sturdza-Bulandra was an actress and co-founder, alongside her husband, of the theatre company and Municipal Theatre of Bucharest. From 1947 until the end of her life, she was the director of this theatre, later named after her, where she both directed and performed on-stage. During WW2, the company performed theatre plays to raise funds for the Red Cross. She was a teacher at the Conservatory of Dramatic Arts for 30 years, shaping the 20th century generations of Romanian actors.
Elisabeta Rizea was a freedom fighter who became a symbol of resistance after the revolution and the fall of communism in 1989. She was arrested, imprisoned and tortured by the communist Security police for aiding anti-communist guerrilla groups, that her husband was also part of, with food, shelter, and supplies and after the first imprisonment of 7 years, she continued doing that until she was declared ‘enemy of the people’ by the dictatorship.
She died aged 91 in 2003, with insufficient recognition to her contribution and sacrifices.
Simona Halep is a Romanian professional tennis player. She has been ranked world No. 1 in singles twice between 2017 and 2019, for a total of 64 weeks, which ranks tenth in the history of the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) rankings. Halep was the year-end No. 1 in 2017 and 2018. She has finished each year ranked no lower than No. 4 since 2014 and has the longest active streak of being ranked in the top 10. She has won 22 WTA singles titles and has finished runner-up 17 times.
Halep has won two Grand Slam singles titles: the 2018 French Open and the 2019 Wimbledon Championships.
Lizica Codreanu-Fontenoy (nee Codreanu) was a dancer and physical therapist that challenged the norms of the 20th century dance world and opened the first Hatha yoga school in Europe.
A friend and muse of the sculptor Constantin Brancusi and close to the avant-garde artistic movement, she studied visual arts, ballet and contemporary dance, performed on stage and as a film actress, and had an active practice as a choreographer in Paris.
Ana Aslan was a biologist and physician considered a pioneer of social medicine. Years after becoming the head of the physiology department at the Institute of Endocrinology of Bucharest, she founded the Institute of Geriatrics and, in 1959, founded the Romanian Society of Gerontology and Geriatrics. This was the first in the world to channel its research into clinic, experimental, and social researches, devise a therapeutic strategy to prevent the process of ageing, and organize a national health network for the prevention of ageing. In 1982, she was one of the organizers of the World Meeting for the Third Age (Golden Age) in Vienna, Austria, and received the Leon Bernard Award from the World Health Organization.
Cecilia Cuțescu-Storck was a painter and muralist with a strong influence on cultural life in the interwar period. She studied in Munich, Germany, and in Paris, and exhibited in France and Romania. She was a socially-able, active promoter of feminism, contributing to the establishment of the Romanian Association of women painters and sculptors, and the Women’s artistic circle.
She and her daughters donated her home, a neo-Gothic building and sculpture garden, to the city counsel of Bucharest to become a public modern art museum exhibiting a collection of her and her sculptor husband’s work.
Elisa Leonida Zamfirescu was a Romanian engineer and one of the first female engineers in the world.
Due to prejudices against women in the sciences, her college application in Bucharest was rejected, so she graduated from the Royal Academy of Technology in Berlin in 1912. During WW1, she was back in Romania where she managed a Red Cross Hospital at Marasesti. In retirement, she was involved in activism for disarmament, and an award bearing her name was established for women working in science and technology.
Carmen Uscatu and Oana Gheorghiu are the founders of the Association ‘Daruieste Viata’ (Give life), an NGO engaged in reforming the many inadequacies in the Romanian public health system. Since 2012, they renovated oncology wings and provided medical equipment in hospitals throughout the country, built the first laboratories of diagnosis of lymphatic cancer and much more.
They are currently fighting to build the first national oncologic hospital for children through a fundraising campaign already supported by 350k donators and 4000 companies. The Association has provided enormous support during the pandemic, building a modular hospital and providing protective and medical equipment for the covid-treatment wings in hospitals in 102 cities in Romania.