1 June 2018

One hundred years of women's history in eleven shoes

One hundred years of women's history eleven shoes 

Brabants Dagblad from 1 June 2018

Arno Heesakkers

Boxtel / Den Bosch

Look, education may offer equal opportunities for boys and girls, thanks to combative women who demand their rights, but then things go wrong. Women also want the same opportunities and the same pay as men at work. This is what the 100-year-old Association for Women with a Higher Education stands for. And yes. that name must change because it is hopelessly worn out.

A shoe from the Aletta Jacobs era of the shoe museum in Waalwijk. In the background the first lines of a poem by Anne Büdgen. PHOTO MARC BOLSIUS

You are really blinking your eyes; the Association for Women with a Higher Education (VVAO) will celebrate its centenary this weekend. An entire association for higher educated women? Why on earth? Well, the club was founded because 100 years ago it was not self-evident that women were allowed to study at university, says chairman Jeanne Martens. Indeed! But has that goal not been achieved long ago? “Sure, but then things go wrong. Women still do not have the same opportunities in the workplace, in top positions, and they are paid less for the same work than their male colleagues. That has to change, emancipation is far from complete. ”
Okay, that's pretty awkward with this name that immediately puts you on the wrong track. It is also inconvenient now that we are in the middle of a discussion about the terms high and low educated. That discussion was started at the end of March by opinion maker and entrepreneur Marianne Zwagerman. “How fair is it to call people with a VMBO education less educated? They are practically trained and that is no worse than people who have done a theoretical study ”, Zwagerman said during an entrepreneurial meeting. “We unintentionally put an incredibly large group of professionals away as low. We must stop that. Replace low and high educated by practically and theoretically educated.


Jeanne Martens fully admits that the current name of her association is worn out. "So we think about that." The national association has 32 local branches, the office is in Boxtel. The VVAO has about 3500 members and is committed to women of non-Dutch descent, young women who are just starting a career, 50 plus women, 'because they run a great risk of dismissal during reorganisations'. “Especially because they often work in sectors where the blows fall; care. education and financial services. The goals of the association are on the one hand: sharing knowledge and networking and on the other hand promoting interests in matters that are still relevant to women: the consequences of part-time work, the lack of top women and the unequal pay. All this has its roots in the past, says the VV AO. It has everything to do with the education of girls over the years and with the Dutch ideal of motherhood. Martens: “Young women with a family often choose to work part-time. This curtails their career and means that they are more or less economically dependent on their partner. Research shows, and this is also seen in other countries, that it is better if both partners work four days a week and each take care of the children one day. But in the Netherlands, men who give up working hours to care at home are still often seen as wimps. ”
For women it is important that they come a long way, 100 years ago a study was not obvious to them. Until mid-1956, women were incapacitated, a married woman had as much to say as a young woman or a mentally ill, so nothing at all. For her, marriage also meant that she had to stop working. Later on, the discussion began whether women might be allowed to work, and when that was achieved, working alongside running a family was the exclusive problem of women. She had to combine that. "And actually that is still the case, while income and family should be a joint responsibility."
The book will be published on the occasion of the anniversary 'Extraordinary women in the footsteps of Aletta Jacobs' by historian Alies Pegtel. The book describes the lives of women who are seen as figureheads of women's emancipation. Such as former minister and doctor Els Borst, the first female minister Marga Klompé, the first extraordinary professor and biologist Johanna Westerdijk and Angela Maas, the first cardiologist with consultation hours specifically for women.


And of course Aletta Jacobs, the first student to successfully complete her studies. She thus became the first Dutch female doctor. As a feminist she fought for women's suffrage, among other things, which was introduced with the amendment of the constitution of 1917. Aletta Jacobs came from a Jewish family with 11 children. She was horrified by her vision of the future: 'That of an unmarried lady who is peeping behind the screens with a handicraft'. So she wrote a letter to the then liberal minister Johan Thorbecke with the request to be allowed to study. She was admitted in 1871, and on his deathbed Thorbecke finally gave her permission to take the medical exam. Jeanne Martens: “Looking back, a lot has happened in 100 years concerning the position of women in society. Precisely because there were women who fought for their rights and thus paved the way for women who came after them. But we are not there yet. We need to step into the shoes of all those militant women who went before us. We must follow their footsteps. ”
Hence the anniversary exhibition  In Their Footsteps in Museum Slager  in Den Bosch, which can be visited Saturday afternoon from 15.00 p.m. to 1 July. Various artists present their views on 11 female figureheads who played a prominent role in women's history over the past century. A number of them are also in the book.


Furthermore, there will be a symposium or a 'theatrical talk show' with, among others, Adelheid Roosen in Theater aan de Parade on Saturday morning from 10.30 to 12.00. The presentation is in the hands of Astrid Joosten. The theme of the anniversary celebration is  'Heads and Heels'. So head and heels. Why chop? We hear the men again scornfully shout that women can only talk about shoes. Jeanne Martens: “But those shoes are a very nice symbol for following in the footsteps of other women. What binds our women is their education, their way of life. ”

We must step into the shoes of all those militant women who went before.
- Jeanne Martens