Have you ever thought about the role of women in fairy tales? All these princesses, frog princesses, Vasilisa the Beautiful are always just a reward for the good fellows for their courage, ingenuity and strength. And they themselves passively wait for some young man to marry them. The heroines of the Georgian book “Once upon a time there was a girl”, which was recently presented to the UN, are not at all like that. Who are they - says Elena Vapnichnaya.
“In the kingdom of vanilla powder there lived a girl called Barbara. All the inhabitants of this kingdom had one peculiarity - every day they ate the same thing. Barbara, a girl with big black eyes, was different from them: she tasted all the fruits that grew in the district, and could not understand why people refuse this. ”
So begins one of the fairy tales from the collection “Once upon a time there was a girl”, where each story is a story about a real woman who left a mark in the history of Georgia. Who is dedicated to the tale of the vanilla kingdom, which is called "Blanmange"? Its author, writer Nestan Nene Kvinikadze, tells:
“This amazing woman is Barbara Eristavi-Jorjadze. She was a poetess and a writer - her play “Soso” is well known in this place. She is also the author of the first cookbook in Georgia, where she included both Georgian and European dishes. But besides this, she fought for women's rights and became the author of the first feminist manifesto, which for the 19th century was a very bold document. ”
Nestan Nene says that she tried to use the same ingredients and dishes in the fairy tale that Barbara Eristavi-Jorjadze described in her culinary book.
Among the other heroes of 21 fairy tales - Tsaritsa Tamara, who in Georgia, by the way, is called Tsar, first Georgian alpinist Alexandra Japaridze, composer Barbara (Varenka) Machavariani-Tsereteli - author of the well-known “Suliko”, first pilot Rusudan Zhordania, first alpinist and pioneer Alexandra Japaridze.
The book “Once upon a time a girl” was born thanks to the financial support of Sweden, and the idea itself was born - one can say, over a cup of coffee - among the staff of the UN Women's Organization in Tbilisi - UN-Women. Her representative in Georgia - Eric Kvapilova:
In Russian, this book would be called "Once upon a time there was a girl." But the history of its creation, apparently, can begin like this: “One morning, women gathered for coffee ...” Continue, please.
“Yes, women in our office have many children — both boys and girls — and we talked in the morning about what we read when we were young. And the girls said: yes, you had different books [about independent girls], for example, “Peppy-Long Stocking”, but we do not have books for girls and there are no books for boys that would tell about girls as very strong and intelligent. For the first time, we thought about how to talk about gender equality with children in a normal way. We wondered if there were any real examples of [eminent] women in Georgian history. The girls went to the archive and found the names of the women who were famous in the technique, but there were no photos of them. It was a little detective work. ”
The “girls” —that is, the employees — selected about thirty potential heroines and offered them to the future authors to choose from. They chose who they want to write about.
Did you choose your heroines yourself?
"Yes. That's how it started. We did not think that there would be 12 writers who would be interested in this project and who wrote 21 fairy tales. ”
The writers were found and responded with great enthusiasm. Maybe partly because they were offered to write fairy tales. And who does not love them? Permanent Representative of Georgia to the UN Kakha Imnadze:
“We all read fairy tales in childhood and, of course, loved fairy-tale heroes. And here these fabulous heroes are real heroes from the history of Georgia. ”
Daughter will read this book?
“My daughter will read, I guess. She is already a student, but this book is not only for children, but also for adults. So I hope she reads too. I myself am going to read. ”
Already, the book “Once upon a time a girl” is read by schoolchildren across Georgia.
As I understand it, you distribute these books to schools, and especially in rural schools. How do teachers react to them, like schoolchildren and especially boys? There is no such that why here is a book about girls?
“No, no, because this book is not for girls. There is something interesting in every story - it doesn't matter if it is a story about a girl or a boy. This book is for children aged 7 to 15 years. Interestingly, these children do not have stereotypes yet - this is important. They think about life, about different situations. This is the most important - critical thinking. I am very glad that we were able to take this book to villages in Georgia and to places where there are no libraries and that it is very interesting for children - this is the most important thing for us. ”