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We, women

Time period: 1960-present
Number of interviews: 18
Accessibility: by appointment via
Period of interviews: 2022

The struggle for equal status and representation of women and men in Flanders is more than a century old. Great strides have been made, but we are not there yet. Using testimonies and archive footage, the four-part series ‘We, women’ outlines the evolution of the position of women in our society, both privately and in public life.


How have wrong expectations, upbringing, glass ceilings, discrimination, pressure, prejudice or other obstacles made it difficult for women to develop to their full potential in recent decades? For example, in the areas of upbringing, education, marriage, family, sexuality, work and politics. How have they dealt with this? What have action groups, politicians and individual women been able to change? And how do women experience all these obstacles today?


In ‘We, women’, women of all ages and walks of life tell their stories, together with politicians, figureheads of the women’s movement and former ‘Dolle Mina’s’. Their testimonies are illustrated with punishing archive footage. These are at times disconcerting and at other times funny stories about being brought up as a housekeeper, fighting to be allowed to study, the conquest of men’s professions, sexual taboos and men who still think they know better. The four episodes focus successively on sexuality, marriage and family, professional life and politics.


We, women’ uses the tried and tested formula of Children of…: the entire historical and current story is told by committed witnesses who look the viewer straight in the eye.

A surprising look behind the scenes of the struggle for women’s rights. Often stunning archive material that not least puts the sexism of our own public broadcaster on display. And eighteen women who draw you into their stories and leave you with deep respect.

The episodes

Videos can be viewed if you are logged in and have confirmed your Belgian residence or identity


S1 | Afl.1

In charge of your own body

Battle for sexual freedom, from taboo on monthlies to Metoo


S1 | Afl.2

Women must know their place

For decades, women have been brought up to be obedient to men.


S1 | Afl.3

Welcome to the world of men

For a long time, education prepared girls mainly for the household.



S1 | Afl.4

Women in power

Women organised, resisted and conquered their place

Below is an overview of the 18 witnesses – or participants in Canvas’ documentary We, Women – arranged by age.


  • Victoire Van Nuffel (1937): cycling champion and bar owner, openly lesbian at a time when that was anything but obvious.
  • Nelly Maes (1941): politician who fought against sexism in politics and campaigned for women’s rights.
  • Gerlinda Swillen (1942): Dutch teacher and VUB researcher, militant for equal pay for equal work.
  • Ida Dequeeker (1943): emancipation official at VDAB, co-founded the Dolle Mina movement in Flanders and participated in the influential Vrouwen Overleg Komitee.
  • Lieve Flour (1944): administrative assistant in the construction sector, grew up in a stifling traditional environment and overcame a humiliating marriage.
  • Josette Franckson (1946): worker FN Herstal, involved in the legendary women’s strike at that factory in 1966.
  • Margot Roggen (1948): administrative assistant in the insurance sector, often had to fight against male privilege and even overt discrimination as a child and later during her studies and at work.
  • Marie Jeanne Declerq (1950): police commissioner, made a career in the male bastion of the Judicial Police.
  • Liliane Versluys (1951): lawyer and visual artist, engaged in the Leuven refuge and published the controversial book Your Rights as a Woman (1987).
  • Moniek Darge (1952): composer, was active in Dolle Mina and founded Vrouwen Tegen Verkrachting.
  • Kati Couck (1954): ABVV staff member, active with Dolle Mina, founded abortion centre Kollektief Anticonceptie, started Vluchthuis Gent and organised self-defence courses for women.
  • Linda Van Crombruggen (1960): former complaints coordinator VRT, testifies about sexism and sexual harassment in her own home.
  • Khadija Zamouri (1967): politician, distanced herself from her conservative Moroccan Islamic milieu, became politically active with Open VLD, went to work on cabinets and became a Brussels MP.
  • Leyla Yüksel (1971): became a gynaecologist with the full support of her parents and, in her own words, was more bothered by sexism among white doctors than Turkish patriarchs.
  • Wendy Van den Heuvel (1978): administrative clerk and author, her mother was abused by her father. Recently, two male colleagues ambushed her on a dating site and shared her intimate photos. She left the company, but her experience inspired her to write a book.
  • Pinar Akbas (1980): has mixed feelings about her Turkish upbringing, went to college and temporarily entered politics, is currently a nurse and published her autobiography Niran and me this year.
  • Heleen Struyven (1988): worked as a lawyer at reputable firms, but noticed that sexism still exists there too. Yet she kept going for it… until she crashed.
  • Romy Schlimbach (1995): was bullied for her looks in childhood, experienced an eating disorder, an admission and severe depression, but today she is a plus-size model and influencer: body positivity is the alternative she promotes to the stifling beauty ideal.

Interviews with union members

Time period: 1983
Number of interviews: 7
Accessibility: Only the digital files are accessible.
Transcripts: Unknown

The Trade Union Historical Society was founded in 1983; its objectives were to increase knowledge of trade union history and promote interest in the history of the trade union movement.


This audio collection features interviews with members of the St Eloy Katholieke Arbeidersbeweging, Algemeene Nederlandsche Metaalbewerkerbond Rotterdam, the Algemene Nederlandse Bouwarbeidersbond, ABB and ABVA, Amsterdam, NVV, Friesland, the Transportbond and the Algemene Nederlandse Diamantbewerkerbond.


The archive was deposited with the IISH in 2005 by the VHV “Friends of the History of the Trade Union Movement” Foundation; with an addition in 2018 from IISH backlogs and in 2021 from Jacques van Gerwen.


Imaazje! The imagination of Provo

Niek Pas
Time period: 1965 - 1967
Number of interviews: 29
Accessibility: On request
Transcripts: Unknown

Provo is one of the best-known protest movements of the 1960s. Although disbanded in 1967, Provo is still surrounded by tasty stories, fond memories and ever-expanding myths. Historian Niek Pas (Tegelen, 1970) conducted extensive research into this protest movement, trying to explain why Provo emerged as an action group in numerous Dutch and foreign cities and simultaneously grew into an international symbol of the Dutch 1960s. This resulted in his dissertation Imaazje! The Imagination of Provo (1965-1967)(Amsterdam: Wereldbibliotheek, 2003). For his doctoral research, Niek Pas interviewed several former members of Provo. Of the interviews, 29 were taped, spread over 38 audio cassettes.

Imaazje! : de verbeelding van Provo (1965-1967)

Author: Niek Pas

Amsterdam: Wereldbibliotheek, 2003

ISBN: 90 284 2014 2

Drawing on the background and networks of two key players at the time, Rob Stolk and Roel van Duijn, Niek Pas paints a fascinating picture of the birth and development of Provo – in Amsterdam, but also in Maastricht and Belgium.

The FNV will not step aside

Vakbondsleider Wim Kok houdt een toespraak tijdens een stakingsmars op de Coolsingel, Rotterdam (1977)
Henne Pauli
Time period: 1977
Number of interviews: 4
Accessibility: Permission from the copyright holder is required.
Transcripts: Unknown

Interviews by Henne Pauli with Jaap Boersma, Frans Drabbe, Jaques Penders and Arie Groenevelt on the role of the 1977 strike.


The collection originally consisted of 8 cassettes signed BG GC1/551 to GC1/558.


Literature: Henne Pauli, De FNV gaat niet opzij!;

Hoe de vakbeweging de grote staking van ’77 won,

Voorlichtingsdienst Federatie Nederlandse Vakbeweging, 1977.

Together with NKV leader Wim Spit, he successfully leads the merger with the NVV to form the FNV. Under the slogan ‘The FNV does not go sideways’, he successfully leads the fight to retain full price compensation in 1977.

Dolle Mina

'Dolle Mina's' [Women's Lib] demonstrating for the right of birth control and abortion showing their bellies with the slogan 'baas in eigen buik' [woman's right to choose]. Utrecht, 14 March 1970.

dolle mina


Interviewers: Nienke, Poortvliet, Marijke Naezer, Mieke Aerts, Barbara Henkes


Number of interviews: 8

Dolle Mina was a left-wing, radical feminist action group. Despite the formal rights women had, there was still a lot of injustice and disadvantage. Through playful actions, they wanted to improve women’s rights. Their sources of inspiration were campaigning women in the US and the Maagdenhuis occupation in Amsterdam. The action group took its name from the nickname of women’s campaigner Wilhelmina Drucker. This combative feminist of the first hour was nicknamed ‘Iron Mina’. Wilhelmina Drucker pursued the same goals as the action group a century earlier.


ATRIA -> Dolle Mina

Women’s Peace Movement

Vredesgang der Nederlandse Vrouwen, Amsterdam - 18 mei 1936
Time period: 1914-1940
Number of interviews: 8
Accessibility: Unknown
Transcripts: Unknown

Interviewers: Marijke Mossink, Annette Mevis



THERE WERE ONCE two women’s peace unions, the Algemeene Nederlandsche Vrouwen Vredebond and the Internationale Vrouwenbond voor Vrede en Vrijheid. Both had been founded at the beginning of World War I with an appeal to something like women’s special responsibility for a better world.
The ANW was of the so-called apolitical ‘improve the world start with yourself’ type. Its members went on home visits like salvation soldiers to propagate peace from person to person.
The IVW, the Dutch branch of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, was self-confident, professional and politically dyed-in-the-wool in the feminist suffrage struggle. Like self-appointed mediators, its leaders, including Aletta Jacobs, went round heads of state and prime ministers to organise peace.


Political scientist Marijke Mossink explains what moved both unions in her dissertation De levenbrengsters – Over vrouwen, vrede, feminisme en politiek in Nederland 1914-1940. On 10 May 1940, they had come within a hair’s breadth of merging, after years of disputes over the forms of action and organisation of their female mission.



De levenbrengsters
over vrouwen, vrede, feminisme en politiek in Nederland 1914-1940

Marijke Mossink

Stichting beheer IISG, 1995 – 252 pages



Proefschrift van de Universiteit van Amsterdam, Faculteit Politieke en Sociaal-Culturele Wetenschappen. Door middel van een vergelijkend onderzoek naar de Algemeene Nederlandsche Vrouwen Vredebond en de Internationale Vrouwenbond voor Vrede en Vrijheid is nagegaan hoe het mogelijk was dat deze twee vrouwenvredesorganisaties naast elkaar bestonden, en waarom het zo moeilijk was om tot een fusie te komen. Centraal staat de betekenis die in beide organisaties aan de begrippen ‘vrouwen’, ‘vrede’ en ‘organisatie’ werd toegekend.




Red women

Time period: 1975 - 2000
Number of interviews: 8
Accessibility: Unknown
Transcripts: Unknown

Oral History interviews with eight women who played important roles in the Red Women and women’s training centre De Born


For brief descriptions of the interviewees see the website van Artria

Women’s relief work

Time period: 1950 - 1990
Number of interviews: 8
Accessibility: Unknown
Transcripts: Unknown

Oral history interviews with feminists who pioneered women’s mental and physical health care.


For brief descriptions of the interviewees, see the website van Artria

Oral history of the second feminist wave in Flanders

Stem vrouw-actie van PAG Mechelen, 1971 (collectie AVG-Carhif)
Time period: 1970-1985
Number of interviews: 30
Accessibility: Reasoned request. The institution then reviews the transcripts (privacy-sensitive passages) and checks the contract with the interviewee (possible restrictions on use).
Transcripts: Available (pdf, word)
Period of interviews: 2012 - 2013





Medium: wav (with conversion to mp3).

The aim of the project was twofold:

  • To generate source material on feminism of the so-called ‘second feminist wave’ by interviewing protagonists of this movement with special attention to aspects that remain underexposed in written sources.
  • To introduce the general public to (the ideas of) the second feminist wave by means of interactive web modules using, among other things, interview fragments.


  • 30 interviews (15 protagonists, 2 interviews each): digital files with transcription and metadata
  • Video interviews with 8 protagonists, from which several passages were cut for the didactic website: GENDERHISTORY.BE


The second feminist wave is the name of a period of feminist activism in the late 1960s and 1970s.  It was part of a broader movement of social protest, like the student protest of May ’68. This website introduces you to the feminist movement in Flanders. What did the feminists want ‘from the second wave’? And how do they look back on that period today?


The website is meant as an introduction to the history of the women’s movement.



In 2012-2013 the Archive Centre for Women’s History (AVG) worked on the project about the history of the second wave of feminism in Belgium.

This article was published about the course of the project and the learning process the AVG went through regarding digital sustainability.  

Labour Movement Twente

Collection former Film and Science Foundation
Time period: 1930-1960
Number of interviews: 10
Accessibility: Restricted
Transcripts: None
Period of interviews: 1976-1978

Medium: 5 audiotapes

The interviews were conducted within the framework of the (economic and social) history doctoral theses (KUN) of the four interviewers, with as subject the labour movement and labour relations in the Twente textile industry 1930-1960. A number of interviews were conducted with several people at the same time. For instance, Duyn, Ter Haar, the Kapitein couple and Pieperiet are in one interview, as are Meijer and Tijdeman.

Almost all of them speak about the situation in the textile industry in Twente from an active position in the left-wing (trade) movement, especially NVV, NSV, NAS, EVC and OVB, whereby a strong aversion to the CPN emerges. The exception is the liberal politician Stikker, who speaks more from the position of employers than from his views on the new (post-war) forms of cooperation between employers and employees. Among other things, he was the initiator of the Labour Foundation in 1945.


Gerard Kuys – De vrees voor wat niet kwam : nieuwe arbeidsverhoudingen in Nederland 1935-1945, aan het voorbeeld van de Twentse textielindustrie

Niek Vos – De rauwe wet van vraag en aanbod: arbeidsverhoudingen in de Twents-Gelderse textielindustrie 1945 tot 1949