In 1912, the newly opened Central Station was the site of one of the country’s first massive suffragist demonstrations: the funeral parade for Dora Haver. Dora had spent 25 years campaigning for women’s rights, including the right to vote, the right to better working conditions, and the right to education. She’d been introduced to the women’s movement as a 32-year-old teacher, and it quickly became her driving passion. She advocated a wholesale change in the position of women in Dutch society and worked for a variety of women’s causes with her sister in spirit, Wilhelmina Drucker.
Dora and Wilhelmina wanted women to be able to support themselves outside of marriage, so they campaigned for women to be paid more and for safer conditions at women’s workplaces. They wanted women to have access to education and the right to vote, so the government would have to take their needs into account. They spoke at events across the country, advocated for women’s trade unions, and founded Evolution magazine. The end of Dora’s marriage in 1900, 12 years after she became interested in the women’s movement, drove her to fight even harder for a better place for women.
In the spring of 1912, Dora was so ill that she was admitted to the Burgerziekenhuis, a modern hospital for the working class. While there, she planned an exhibition highlighting the past century’s achievements by women. She also planned a funeral parade for herself. The cremation that she wanted wasn’t legal in the Netherlands, so she planned a parade to Central Station to put her body on a train to Germany.
Thousands of women took over the streets that led to the station. Dora’s coffin was brought along those streets draped in yellow and white, the colors of the women’s rights organization she led. It was a celebration of her life and an impressive show of numbers. Women across classes joined together to say they would not be ignored any longer. Seven years later, those women (finally) got the right to vote.
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