This weekend’s European Heritage Days celebrations in Wallonia are an opportunity for visitors to discover monuments and sites on which women have had a major impact, organisers say.
Held on 11-12 September under the theme of “Women and Heritage,” the event showcases buildings dedicated to women, including many in honour of virgins and saints, as well as structures built, renovated or led by women. Locations benefitting from female sponsorship and sites linked to the evolution of women’s rights are also included.
“Past programming has always included women, but there was never any special focus on them, nor were they given a leading role,” said Madeleine Brilot, coordinator of the Walloon Heritage Day celebrations.
At the Dour Protestant Temple in Hainaut, visitors can learn more about the life of World War I resistance member Isabelle Blume, a female politician who was a key figure in the feminist movement and in the fight against fascism.
They can also discover Alix de Rosoit, Françoise Herwecq, Jeanne Duquesne and pharmacist Marie Rose Carouy, and their influence on the existence of the Notre-Dame à la Rose Hospital in Lessines – from its founding to the provision of daily care and the site’s reconstruction.
In Namur, the spotlight is on Anne de Rupplémont, who left a third of her considerable fortune for providing assistance to the poor and contributing to their education.
A total of over 30 visits and circuits have been organised in all provinces of the Walloon Region to enable the population to discover these sites, to which it rarely has access.
The theme of Heritage Days is usually chosen by the minister whose portfolio includes national heritage, in this case Valérie De Bue. The theme for the next edition will be unveiled on Monday, and it will tell whether the feminisation of the Heritage Days in Wallonia will continue.
In Brussels-Capital Region, the traditional Patrimony Days – on 18 and 19 September – were rebaptised “Heritage Days” to disassociate the event from what was seen as a sexist concept and the Heritage Days this year are dedicated to the theme “Meeting Points”.
The third edition of the Brussels event will be organised next weekend by two associations, l’Architecture qui dégenre and l’Ilot – Sortir du sans-abrisme.
The overall theme for the European Heritage Days across Europe this year is Inclusiveness and Diversity to encourage broad engagement with culture, foster and celebrate diversity, and emphasise the benefits of interacting with individuals and communities from different cultural backgrounds.