Maria Baers

 

Maria BaersMaria Baers (1883-1959) was the first catholic female senator in Belgium and an internationally active feminist.

 

She was the daughter of a middle-class wholesale merchant. Her parents both died when she was still young, leaving her to raise her younger sister and two younger brothers. After high school she went to Freibourg (Switzerland) to study philosophy and social sciences.

 

In 1908 she began working to improve the life of Antwerp working women and became a leading figure in both the women's movement and the Christian labour movement. Baers organized trade unions for women embroiders, seamstresses, glovers and lace makers. She sought to improve the image, status and financial security of worker's wives as well as women at work and those taking in work at home.

 

Stamp from Belgium with Maria BaersTogether with Victoire Cappe she founded in 1912 the General Secretariat of the Belgian Christian Women's Trade Associations, which became in 1917 the Christian Women's Social Work (CSVW/OSFC). She remained general secretary for Flanders all her life.

 

Other functions were vice-president of the General Christian Trade Union Federation (1921), member of the International Union of Catholic Women's Associations (1925), co-founder of the International Catholic Union for Social Work (general secretary in 1927, president in 1950), co-opted senator for the Catholic Party, later the Christian People's Party, 1936-1954, secretary of the senate 1944-1954.

 

Baers was a member of the International Labour Office in 1932, a Belgian delegate in the Committee for Social Affairs of the League of Nations in 1939 and a delegate at the Economic and Social Council of the UN in 1952.

 

Stamp catalogue

 

Belgium                               14 November 1970

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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last revised: 14 December 2009