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“La Chapelle’s Olympic equipment must bear the name of Alice Milliat, sportswoman and feminist”

Grandstand. Alice Milliat (1884-1957): you probably don’t know this name, unless you are part of the few circles of well-informed sportsmen. This woman is one of those who have been swept away from our common narrative, from the history of our country. Yet her role was crucial in the long march for the emancipation of women.

Alice Milliat was 35 in 1919 when she became president of the Federation of Women’s Sports Societies of France. At the end of the First World War, she was one of those women who took part in the national effort and who rightly demanded more recognition in all areas of life. Her favorite field being sport, which she practices as a swimmer, hockey player and rower, she is committed to ensuring that women can compete, just like men, in the Olympic Games.

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Otherwise, it organized the first women’s world games at the Pershing stadium in Paris in August 1922. Four editions of these games took place between 1922 and 1934 in Paris, Gothenburg (Sweden), Prague (Czechoslovakia) and London (United Kingdom). Uni): they bring together thousands of spectators. The success was such that the International Olympic Committee ended up, in 1928, by authorizing women to participate in the king sport of the Olympic Games: athletics. Alice Milliat is the first female member of the jury for these events. This is a great victory for the recognition of women in sport.

A plaque and a statue

Today, one hundred years after the first Women’s World Games, Alice Milliat’s fight is still topical. For lack of political will, there is still a long way to go for equality between women and men in our society, but also in sport. Recognition of the pioneering role ofAlice Milliat is still underway, thanks to the will of personalities from the world of sport and activists.

While his name was absent from his burial in the Saint-Jacques cemetery in Nantes until 2020 (in the concession of his maternal family), his descendants have affixed a plaque in the face of the growing notoriety of his story. In 2021, the French National Olympic and Sports Committee (CNOSF) has installed a statue of him at the Maison du Sport Français, next to the statue of Pierre de Coubertin. In addition, this year 2022 will be the occasion to celebrate the centenary of the first women’s sports games at the Pershing stadium during a major sporting event.

Read also A sculpture in tribute to Alice Milliat, pioneer of women’s sport

In 2024, the Olympic and Paralympic Games that we will host in Paris are a unique opportunity to highlight women in this very masculine environment. For this reason, as we have proposed several times to the mayor of Paris, we would like the future Olympic equipment located at Porte de La Chapelle, whose construction started in 2021, to bear the name of Alice Milliat.

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