Universiteit Leiden

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Women in the 1970s

The Dutch women’s movement began around 1967 with the discussion of the disadvantages that women faced in daily life. In 1968 the MVM (Man-Vrouw-Maatschappij) was born and played an important role as a public voice demanding female education programs and inclusion in the workforce.

The strongest energy emanated from the socialist feminist camp, which was the driving force in Dutch feminism through Dolle Mina in 1970. This more radical socialist group engaged in a series of protest actions with which public attention was gained. The women’s liberation movement created a fundamental change in Dutch society. However, it took about ten years for this more radical feminism to reach the university walls in Leiden. In the 1980’s,  students of Leiden University were finally encouraged to protest against misogynous regulations of the University and the first classes of Women Studies started in 1976 as part of the Cultural Anthropology program.

In November 1982, Leiden University decided to dismiss three Women’s Studies employees by the next year. It was a time of economic decline and shrinking university budgets. Fearing that this would mean the end of Women’s Studies, a group of several dozen women and some men occupied the Social Sciences Faculty bureau on November 16. They demanded the funds required to keep the three employees as well as extra support for Women's Studies. The university was unwilling to meet these demands and the occupation continued for fifteen days. The occupation gained extensive attention from radio and newspapers, and even led to questions in Parliament. Only after pressure from faculty councils the university gathered the required budget of 100,000 guilders, which ended the occupation on November 30.

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