Thursday’s Google Doodle commemorated feminist icon Aletta Jacobs, who established the world’s first birth control clinic which helped make contraceptives more widely available. Jacobs who hailed from the Netherlands, died 163 years ago at the age of 75.
Here are some things to know about this trailblazer:
1. As a child Jacobs dreamed of becoming a doctor, just like her father. But at the time it was unheard of for women to study medicine. According to Time magazine, girls were not even allowed to attend high school.
2. Jacobs passed the assistant chemist exam in 1870, after studying on her own. She petitioned a University to allow her to attend classes and graduated in 1879 with a medical degree. She was the Netherlands’ first female physician.
When a country is in a state of mind to grant the vote to its women, it is a sign that that country is ripe for permanent peace, she said.
3. During her medical studies she was also exposed to social justice issues. According to a biography on her, she learned how absurd even Dutch marriage laws were
4. She married a politician and an activist, and did not have any children.
5. She lived in London for a short while, before returning to Amsterdam, where she had learned about contraceptives. So she started the first free birth control clinic in order to provide women with contraceptives. But these efforts were criticised by political leaders.
6. She joined the woman’s suffrage movement in 1903.
7. She co-founded the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom in the same year that Dutch women won voting rights.
“Women will soon have political power. Woman suffrage and permanent peace will go together. When a country is in a state of mind to grant the vote to its women, it is a sign that that country is ripe for permanent peace. Women don’t feel as men do about war. They are the mothers of the race. Men think of the economic results, women think of the grief and pain,” she wrote in her autobiography.
Aletta Jacobs was far ahead of her times. Her clinic opened more than thirty years before similar clinics opened in the U.S. and Britain. Advocates such as Marie Stopes have even travelled to the Netherlands to find out more about her work.