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Aleksandra Gripenberg Edit Profile


also known as Alexandra van Grippenberg, a Fennoman

feminist , member of parliament , politician , social activist , writer

Baroness Aleksandra Gripenberg was the best-known Finnish feminist abroad at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. At home she was well known as the long-serving chairwoman of Suomen Naisyhdistys, the Women's Society of Finland, as the editor of its magazine and as a Finnish Party Member of Parliament.


Aleksandra was the second-youngest and the only one to be educated entirely at home. For the daughter stuck at home, the last years of her father, sister, maternal grandmother and mother were like "a spiritual desert". This black world of experience may also explain the uncompromising religiosity which became and remained her basic idea; it was only with the permission of this idea that others were allowed to emerge. She sought and found a way of venting her loneliness: writing.


She was an activist of the Women's Society of Finland. The central objective of the Women's Society of Finland was to open up all areas of training and work to women and in due course to gain for them the right to vote and stand as candidates in national, local and church elections. She was a member of the leadership of the International Council of Women, organised its national bodies in eastern and southern Europe, read papers at congresses, wrote and gave interviews. she closely followed the activities of Parliament from her position as editor of the society's magazine Koti ja Yhteiskunta ('Home and Society'). She also continued to participate in international feminist work right up to the last - until Christmas Eve, 1913.


  • She founded the first official women's rights organization in Finland, the Suomen Naisyhdistys (Finnish Women's Association), in Helsinki in 1884. Between 1887– 1888, she traveled in England and the United States, to study lessons from the women's movements of those countries. The tour inspired her book A Half Year in the New World (1889). She served as the treasurer of the International Council of Women from 1893–1899.


  • writing

    • Short Stories (1871), The Straws (1884), In Great Numbers (1886)


She reacted sceptically to the right of women to vote and did not regard their gaining of the right to stand for election as timely. "We're not ready", was her argument. This, however, did not prevent her from becoming - if reluctantly - a parliamentary candidate of the Finnish Party (Suomalainen puolue), a member of the party commission and the chairwoman of the women's committee. In her view, parliament needed competent members acting in a spirit of patriotism and not primarily men or women; and - as she wrote in her magazine - the way in which the women MPs acted would determine how soon women in Britain and the United States gained the right to vote.


  • The Women's Society of Finland , Finland

    1887 - 1904