Suze Groeneweg: First woman to be elected into Dutch parliament
On September 17, 1918, a historical event happened in the Netherlands: Suze Groeneweg was elected into the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer), making her the first woman in the Dutch parliament. This was before Dutch women were even allowed to vote, as women only received the right to actively vote in elections on September 28, 1919.
Advocate for public education
Suzanna “Suze” Groeneweg was born on March 4, 1875 in Strijensas. Before she became a politician, she was a teacher in Montfoort, Dordrecht, and Rotterdam. During her teaching days, she often encountered children from poor families, and became a staunch advocate for public education. She was also an advocate for gender equality, but did not participate in separate women’s groups.
Social democratic party
On May 1, 1903, Suze joined the Social Democratic Party (SDAP). She then became a member of the local departmental board and a competent speaker at conferences and meetings. In 1914, she became the chief board member of the national SDAP party, which she remained until 1936.
Partial women’s suffrage
In 1917, partial women’s suffrage was introduced in the Netherlands. This meant that women could be voted into office, but they could not vote themselves. In 1918, after the first elections following the introduction of partial women’s suffrage, Suze was elected into the Dutch parliament. She sat in the House of Representatives alongside 99 men.
Career in politics
After the right to actively vote was introduced, Suze was re-elected, and six other women joined her in the House of Representatives that same year. Suze was a member of the House of Representatives until 1937 - but that’s not all. She was also a member of the municipal council of Rotterdam (1919-1931) and the States-Provincial of South Holland (1919-1937). Furthermore, she was the first female civil registry officer, and was awarded Knight of the Order of the Netherlands Lion in 1937.
During her career, she was concerned with the education and position of women, as well as maternity leave, pacifism and teetotalism.
Suze Groeneweg died aged 65 on October 19, 1940.
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