Aletta Jacobs - Women's Suffrage Activist

Biografia Aletta Jacobs BiographyAletta Henriëtte Jacobs (Dutch pronunciation: [aːˈlɛtaː ɦɑ̃ːriˈɛtə ˈjaːkɔps]; 9 February 1854 – 10 August 1929) was a Dutch physician, women's suffrage activist, and inventor. Born in the small village of Sappemeer in the Netherlands, she had many accomplishments in different fields such as women's suffrage, medicine, and lower class aid. Aside from all the accomplishments she made throughout her life, she was also the first woman to attend a Dutch University officially and the first female physician in the Netherlands.

Born on February 9, 1854 to Abraham Jacobs and Anna de Jongh, she had eleven siblings and was the eighth oldest out of them. Her father was a Jewish country doctor from whom she developed an interest to follow the field of medicine. As a child, she would go on many doctor visits with him and seeing all the help he brought to his patients made her pursue becoming a physician.

Even though she dreamed of being a doctor like her father, access to education for women in contemporary Netherlands was a big struggle. Jacobs was able to finish primary school in 1867, but at the time no girl in Sappemeer was allowed to enter high school. This did not stop Jacobs from learning, and in 1870 she passed the exam for assistant chemist. Thus, she gained recognition and eventually, on April 28, 1871, she was given permission to attend the University of Groningen by minister of education J.R. Thorbecke. On March 8, 1879 Jacobs graduated from the university as the first female physician in the Netherlands.

After graduating, Jacobs moved to London. There she started meeting many feminists as well as birth control and suffrage activists. In London she was greatly influenced by new ideas, one being the need for women to have contraceptives available to prevent unwanted pregnancy. Afterwards, she moved to Amsterdam where she set up her own practice clinic for the lower class who could not afford other physicians.

Biografia Aletta Jacobs BiographyMany women also began asking her for some form of contraception. She began thinking of solutions to this problem and helped W.P.J. Mensinga improve the diaphragm, and make it useable. However, most people accredit the invention of the diaphragm solely to W.P.J. Mensinga. Although Mensinga made the original diaphragm, Jacobs contacted him and made great contributions and changes to the design of the device to perfect it.

After going to the International Council of Women's meeting in London in 1899, Jacobs decided to leave her medical practices and devote herself to women's suffrage. After the beginning of the First World War, Jacobs held an International Congress of Women in the Hague.[citation needed] Throughout the war she continued to fight hard for women's suffrage and even up to her death still talked at different conferences. She died in Baarn, Netherlands on August 10, 1929.

She is included in the Canon of Dutch History, which was prepared by a committee headed by Frits van Oostrom and presented to the Minister of Education, Culture and Science in 2006; the Canon consists of fifty articles and aims to provide a chronological summary of Dutch history to be taught in primary schools, and the first two years of secondary school in the Netherlands. A revised version, which still includes her as one of the topics, was presented to the Dutch government on 3 October 2007.
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