Women’s History Month Spotlight Pt. 5

March 12, 2017 by


Aletta Jacobs, MDAletta Jacobs

A formal education was hard to pursue for a woman growing up in the 19th century Netherlands. Aletta’s father was a country doctor, and while only able to finish primary school, she continued learning in the pursuit of becoming a physician. In 1870 she passed the exam in order to become an assistant chemist. Gaining notoriety from this allowed her permission to attend the University of Groningen. In 1879, Jacobs graduated as the first female physician in the Netherlands.

Moving to London shortly after graduation, Jacobs started meeting active women’s suffrage activists and feminists of whom would have great influence on her. The moving to Amsterdam, Dr. Jacobs established her own practice for the lower class.

One of her primary accomplishments was in her assistance in the need for women to have contraceptives available to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Working alongside W.P.J. Mensinga, she was vital in changes to the design of the device in order to perfect it.

In 1899, Jacobs decided to leave the field of medicine and devote her time to women’s suffrage. She was a member of multiple international organizations aimed at mediating for the progress of ending the First World War and she continued to fight for women’s rights up until her death in 1929.