About Aletta Jacobs
Aletta H. Jacobs (1854-1929) was the first female student to attend a Dutch University, embarking on a degree programme in Medicine in Groningen in 1871. She was awarded a PhD on 8 March 1879 for research entitled ‘Over localisatie van physiologische en pathologische verschijnselen in de groote hersenen’ (Localizing physiological and pathological symptoms in the cerebrum). After having completed her studies, Aletta Jacobs devoted much of her life to improving the living and working conditions of women. In her capacity as a doctor, she introduced the contraceptive diaphragm into the Netherlands and in 1881 helped to found the ‘Nieuw – Malthusiaansche Bond’, a forerunner of the NVSH family planning movement. She offered free consultations to working-class women, concerned herself with the fate of prostitutes and fought to improve seating conditions for female shop workers. For many years, she chaired the ‘Vereeniging voor Vrouwenkiesrecht’, a society that campaigned for votes for women, and was actively involved in the international peace movement.
The University of Groningen honours Aletta Jacobs by awarding a prize bearing her name every two years. A bust of Aletta Jacobs takes pride of place in front of the Harmonie Building on the Oude Kijk in ’t Jatstraat.
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