Alice Milliat was born in 1884 in Nantes, France, and deceased on May 19th 1957 in Paris. Alice Milliat studied to become a teacher and was an active sportswoman with a love for rowing. In 1922, she became the President FSFI*. Alice Milliat believed that sports developed personalities and gave young women confidence. Her own confidence and leadership led to a 15-year international campaign for the development of women sports.
In 1919, Alice Milliat’s first big move was to request that the IOC include women in the track and field program. She recounts;
“I came up against a solid wall of refusal, which led directly to the creation of the Women’s Olympic Games.”
It was a time of cultural upheaval between two world wars when the feminist movement was making a splash. In this momentum Alice Milliat and her peers created an international federation, which gave birth to the first “Women’s Games” in 1921. In 1922, 38 countries from 5 continents were affiliated with FSFI and the decision was made to hold the “Women’s Olympic Games” every 4 years.
Between 1922 and 1934 the FSFI organized four Women’s Olympics exposing hundreds of athletes to thousands of spectators. In the Paris Games in 1924, 15,000 people came to watch. One Paris newspaper even compared Alice Milliat’s success to Pierre de Coubertin’s. Alice Milliat and her peers did more to promote women sports than either the IOC or the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in the 1920’s and 1930’s.