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To promote and test her ideas, Wilhelmina Drucker throughout her life contributed to the current political discourse in various ways: through lectures, by interpellations at meetings, by engaging in polemics, and by launching her own periodicals. She would form alliances with existing movements if such would facilitate progress; otherwise she would either start her own initiatives, committees, and associations, or encourage others to do so.

In the same vein, around the mid-1880s, Drucker joined the socialist movement, only to find that gender equality would be better served by an independent body – the Vrije Vrouwenvereeniging (Free Women’s Association, VVV, 1889) – and an independent periodical – Evolutie (Evolution, 1893). In between, she even managed to export the concept of feminist autonomy to Belgium. At the 1891 International Socialist Congress in Brussels, Drucker and the VVV which she represented there, caught the eye of the socialist women present as well as the Belgian press. Shortly after, the Socialistische Propagandaclub voor Vrouwen (Socialist Propaganda Club for Women) within the Belgian Workers Party followed the VVV’s example and, with the aid of Drucker, set on a more independent course. And in 1892, actively endorsed by Drucker, the first independent Belgian women’s organization, the Ligue belge du droit des femmes, was formed.

To promote women’s suffrage, according to Drucker, an association of all currents was required (instead of a limited radical feminist body of kindred spirits) and eventually, in 1894, the Vereeniging voor Vrouwenkiesrecht (Association for Women’s Suffrage, VVK) came into being. But as soon as, to Drucker’s taste, the association began to identify itself with one predominant political (i.e. the liberal) movement, she parted with the VVK to found the Neutrale Vereeniging voor Vrouwenkiesrecht (Neutral Association for Women’s Suffrage) in 1916.

To improve women’s economic security on the labour market, Drucker supported the formation of women’s unions. Also, she came up with a plan for a Dutch contribution to the women’s section of the 1897 Brussels World Fair, which would eventually materialize as the Nationale Tentoonstelling van Vrouwenarbeid (National Exhibition of Women’s Labour) in The Hague, in 1898. Opposed to any protective labour legislation that would single out women, she established, together with Marie Rutgers-Hoitsema, the Nationaal Comité inzake Wettelijke Regeling van Vrouwenarbeid (National Committee on Women’s Labour Legislation) and inspired international coalitions in the same field within the International Correspondence (International Women’s Labour Association).

It is typical of Wilhelmina Drucker that, while being a pivotal force in many of her own initiatives, she remained a highly esteemed committee member of a great number of other women’s organizations as well.


 [yt_modal yt_title="Further reading" header="Further reading" ] - Myriam Everard en Mieke Aerts, ‘Forgotten intersections. Wilhelmina Drucker (1847-1925), early feminism, and the Dutch-Belgian connection’, Revue Belge de Philologie et d’Histoire /Belgisch tijdschrift voor filologie en geschiedenis 77 (1999), 440-472. [/yt_modal]

Additional Info

  • Published: 27 June 2016
Modified: 25 July 2016
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