"In humanity, woman has the same assignment as man. Therefore she must have the same rights in her family and in society."
You may be surprised to find this progressive quote etched into the facade of the building at 5, Rue Jules Breton. It is the motto of Le Droit Humain, a masonic order created in 1901 and who made the transgressive choice to approve women's initiation into the lodge.
This was no simple act of forward-thinking. At the time, gender parity was not encouraged by the Scottish Masonic Rite, let alone society itself.
Under the dynamic leadership of Maria Deraismes, a journalist and feminist engaged in advancing recognition of women and children's rights (and who in 1882 was the first woman ever initiated into the Masons in France) equality of the sexes became a tangible example of the Free Mason's aspirations toward intellectual and social progressivism.
Considered a forbidden taboo in the founding Masonic texts, female initiation was a massive step forward for the early social progress of feminism in Europe.
Le Droit Humain is now an international fraternity counting more than 17,000 members throughout five continents. The oldest of all the lodges is this Parisian location, making the progressive inscription all the more powerful and symbolic for the organization.
Know Before You Go
Metro Saint Marcel - 5