In 2019 the Netherlands celebrated 100 years of universal voting rights. The Groninger Museum payed homage to this historic occasion with Struggle! 100 Years of Women’s Suffrage. The exhibition illustrated how years of activism ultimately resulted in victory for the women’s suffrage movement in the Netherlands: in 1919, a new law decreed both men and women had the right to vote.
The Groninger Museum presented a detailed overview of the turbulent history of the struggle for women’s suffrage in the Netherlands, in which doctor Aletta Jacobs, from Groningen, played a prominent role. The exhibition showed the broad support the movement enjoyed throughout this country: after the Women’s Suffrage Association was founded in 1894, active chapters sprang up in even the smallest villages. The movement was not just a local phenomenon but a worldwide one, and Dutch activists were important partners in the international struggle. The show surveys the numerous developments around women’s suffrage over the years and demonstrates how the fight for gender equality continues today.
Through banners, photographs, cartoons, paintings and historical documents, Struggle! 100 Years of Women’s Suffrage illustrated how the activists fought for their cause. One highlight of the exhibition was a 1911 banner of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance made by the famous Stockholm textile association Handarbetets Vänner. Another was the article amending the law, on loan from the National Archives of the Netherlands.
Around the country, a comprehensive programme of events highlighting history, art, theatre, scholarship and activism celebrated 100 years of women’s suffrage in the Netherlands. Groningen servedas the centre of the festivities. On 9 May 2019, the 100th anniversary of the House of Representatives’ passing of the amendment, a lavish celebration featuring talks, film, theatre and music took place at the Groninger Museum.
The exhibition was curated by Mineke Bosch, professor of modern history at the University of Groningen, and Egge Knol, history curator at the Groninger Museum. A richly illustrated book written by Bosch to accompany the exhibition was published on 9 May 2019.