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Etta Palm Aelders- Dutch Equal Rights Activist: 1743 – 1799

Etta Aelders was born in the Netherlands, married Frenchman Ferdinand Palm in 1762, but was divorced soon after. Ten years later she moved to Paris, where she gave herself the title Baronne d'Aelders.

During the French Revolution she became active in political and feminist circles. She joined the Cercle Social and the Confédération des Amis de la Vérité, which was the first club to admit women. She gave her famous address Discourse on the Injustice of the Laws in Favour of Men at the Expense of Women, at a meeting of the Confédération des Amis de la Vérité in 1790. In 1791, she founded the female branch of the club called the Amies de la Vérité and continued to campaign for women’s rights. Though matrimonial and inheritance reforms were achieved during the revolution, political equality was a long way off.

Women’s welfare remained an important cause to Etta Palm. She worked to establish free clinics to aid pregnant or destitute women, help them find work and provide education to their children. In 1792 she moved back to the Netherlands and continued her feminist activities there.

She had also worked as a spy for both the Dutch and the French and towards the end of her life was arrested by the Dutch authorities and imprisoned for a time.



Wijngaards Institute for Catholic ResearchThis website is maintained by the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research.

The Institute is known for issuing academic reports and statements on relevant issues in the Church. These have included scholars' declarations on the need of collegiality in the exercise of church authority, on the ethics of using contraceptives in marriage and the urgency of re-instating the sacramental diaconate of women.

Visit also our websites:Women Deacons, The Body is Sacred and Mystery and Beyond.

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