The International Order of Freemasonry for Men and Women

   Le Droit Humain

South African Federation
HISTORY


Freemasonry is one of the world’s oldest secular fraternal societies. It is a society concerned with moral and spiritual development. Its
members explore this development through a series of ritual dramas.

There are many Masonic bodies. The International Order of Freemasonry for Men and Women, Le Droit Humain, was established 1893. It was
the first to admit both men and women to Freemasonry on an equal basis.

Each Masonic organisation has its own view and legend of the origins of Freemasonry. There is, broadly-speaking, a common-point of origin.
This is believed to derive from the earliest mystery schools such as those of ancient Egypt and Greece. Their philosophies contain eternal
truths that are regarded by most as the fount of modern religious, philosophical and ethical teachings.

When and how did Freemasonry for men and women begin?
In 1882 a woman named Marie Deraismes was initiated into a French masculine Lodge called appropriately “Les Libres Penseurs” (The Free
Thinkers).In Paris in 1893, Dr. Georges Martin, a French Senator and advocate of equal rights for women, joined Marie Deraismes and other
male Masons in founding La Respectable Loge, Le Droit Humain, Maconnerie Mixte (Worshipful Lodge, Le Droit Humain, Co-Masonry).

The International Order of Freemasonry for Men and Women, Le Droit Humain (originally translated as Co-Freemasonry or Universal Co-
Freemasonry) traces its origin to this foundation. The first Lodge outside France was established in Britain in 1902. There are now branches in
over 60 countries. In contrast to other Masonic Orders, it is a global Order with its headquarters in Paris from where it is administered by the
Supreme Council with the ‘Grand Master’ at its head. According to the International Constitution, however, Federations in all countries have the
freedom of self-governance. In all countries Le Droit Humain works in The Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite, from the 1st to the 33rd degree
inclusive.

Through its title LE DROIT HUMAIN, the Order proclaims its desire that men and women throughout the world be entitled to benefit in equal
measure from social justice.

What does “Le Droit Humain” mean?
The French expression “Le Droit Humain” is difficult to translate into English. It refers to Natural Law and Justice in human life, as distinct from
laws that human beings make. It denotes the rights and responsibilities that every person is born with. The South African Constitution
recognises these values when it says that South Africa is founded on: “Human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of
human rights and freedoms”.
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The International Order of Freemasonry for Men and Women

   Le Droit Humain

South African Federation