Dolle Mina ('Mad Mina')

What is Dolle Mina?

Dolle Mina was a left-wing radical feminist activist group, established in December 1969. Their aim was to improve women’s rights through playful and humorous protest demonstrations.

Het jaar 1975 was door de Verenigde Naties uitgeroepen tot Internationaal Jaar van de Vrouw. De actiegroep Dolle Mina was fel tegen: 'geen jaar, maar een leven voor de vrouw' was hun motto.Fotograaf Ellen Foppe, copyright IAV
Photograph from one of the posters for the cause: ‘A life instead of a year for women’. The United Nations designated the year 1975 International Women’s Year. Collection IAV, © Ellen Foppe

Here you will find an extensive overview of all campaigns by Dolle Mina from 1970 till 1978 (In Dutch)

Why Dolle Mina?

In September 1969, Dolle Mina started with a handful women and men, who shared a discontent about women’s rights and possibilities in both their private lives and in society. Despite the formal rights women had in 1970, there was still a lot of injustice and discrimination. Dolle Mina emerged from the Socialistic Youth group ‘Socialistische Jeugd’ who wanted a new women’s movement. They were inspired by campaigning women in the United Stated and by the Maagdenhuisbezetting (a major university sit-in) in Amsterdam.

1970, Arnhem, Dolle Mina congress. A vote on texts of future slogans is going on. Collection IAV, © Eva Besnyö/Maria Austria Institute

Where did the name come from?

The name Dolle Mina was inspired by Wilhelmina Drucker’s nickname. This early-day feminist (1847-1925) was called ‘Iron Mina’. A century earlier, Wilhelmina Drucker had already pursued the same objectives as Dolle Mina.

What was Dolle Mina’s objective?

In April 1970, at their first congress, Dolle Mina managed to settle on a statement everyone could agree with (not without difficulty):

"Assuming the role divisions between men and women are not defendable on grounds of biological difference, Dolle Mina aims to change society so it will offer equal opportunities for everyone, regardless of gender. This can be accomplished through social struggle, awareness and a change in mentality, resulting in a termination of socio-economical subordination of both men and women".

18 November 1970 Dolle Mina demonstrated against the absence of day care centres. The left-wing party PVDA invited the Dolle Minas to talk about this problem. Mothers and children gathered around former Prime Minister Joop den Uyl. © Spaarnestad

How did Dolle Mina operate?

Dolle Mina was able to attract the attention of both politicians and media. Their first action, on 23 January 1970, was the storming of Nijenrode Castle, a private Business University that was only open for men at the time. This action was followed by the burning of a ladies corset at Wilhelmina Drucker’s statue. A few days later they blocked public urinals with pink ribbons to protest against the absence of public toilets for women. Within a few weeks, Dolle Mina had thousands of followers. The new action group took Amsterdam like a storm, and very quickly after that took the whole of the Netherlands and Belgium. Right from the start, working groups were formed. The majority of these groups focused on practical matters such as abortion, day care centres, equal payment for equal work, and single mothers. But there was also a theory group focusing on education.

DolleminaBuiken.jpg1970 Utrecht, Dolle Minas are campaigning for the right on birth control and abortion. © Spaarnestad

Dolle Mina today

Dolle Mina is still well-known by a large public as a symbol of post-war feminism. It is engraved in the collective memory as a group of young girls with guts, demanding change by playful campaigning. Its objectives are still topical.

Goals that have been achieved such as equal pay and opportunity for men and women, better child care, sexual freedom and a revision of roles between men en women are on-going subjects of social debate.


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