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Polyxeni Loizias (1855-1936): Pioneering Feminist and Educator

Polyxeni Loizias, the first Cypriot feminist, educator, and pioneering writer, played a crucial role in education and advocating for women's rights in the conservative society of Cyprus.

Born in Limassol in 1855, she studied in Athens, Smyrna, and Constantinople. Her encounters with notable figures of that era, such as Sappho Leontiadis and Kalliroy Parren, inspired her to champion women's rights in the social and political context of Cyprus. Upon completing her studies, Polyxeni Loizias returned to Cyprus and embarked on significant work. She took charge of the Limassol Girls' School, assisted by Anna Tomazou-Iakovides. Their teaching extended beyond the Greek and French languages to encompass advanced subjects, including the works of classical authors and poets. Additionally, she introduced gymnastics to girls' schools in Cyprus and founded the first all-female gymnasium, named "Palladion," in 1897.

During that period, most Cypriot women were illiterate, submissive, lacking economic independence, and excluded from public life. Polyxeni Loizias believed that through education, women could overcome their obscurity and actively contribute to society. Thus, she encouraged young girls to pursue studies abroad and engage in work later on. Through her articles and writings, she expressed radical views for the time.

From 1912 to 1920, she published the first women's magazine called "Kypraiiki Kypseli." In this publication, she advocated for women's emancipation and equality, including voting rights, equal pay, and the abolishment of the law requiring women to quit their jobs upon marriage. Polyxeni's views and actions can be considered pioneering in the early feminist movement in Cyprus, reflecting the feminist movement of the interwar period in Greece and Europe. She was a trailblazer not only in education but also in literary creation.

Polyxeni Loizias was the first Cypriot woman to live and create in Cyprus, being the first literary figure on the island, as the preceding writer, Sappho Leontiadis, worked outside Cyprus.

She wrote poetry, drama, and studies and published the following works:

1. "Patridografia Kyprou" (Geography of Cyprus), a school manual, Limassol, 1890.

2. "I Doulis Kyprou" (The Slave of Cyprus), a drama, Limassol, 1890, which she taught successfully twice to the students of the Limassol Girls' School.

3. "Irides," a poetry collection, Athens, 1901, praised in Athens.

4. "I Psichi tis Kyprou" (The Soul of Cyprus), an epic or anthology of Greek women, Limassol, 1908.

5. "Kypraiiki Kypseli," a periodical publication from 1912 to 1920, Limassol, 1921.

6. "Kypraiikon Lefkoma," poems, literary works, proverbs, Limassol, 1924.

7. "Mathitikos Kosmos," a primary school reading book, Limassol, 1925.

Polyxeni Loizias' literary and written work primarily focused on national and educational content, and her poetry was lyrical and patriotic.

She passed away in 1942 at the age of 87.


Special thanks to journalist/researcher Chrysanthos Chrysanthou for providing the photos and valuable assistance.

The portrait of P.L., painted by artist Nikos Nicolaides, is currently located in the Lanitio High School B' in Limassol.