Women's Activism NYC

Rosina Heikel

1842 - 1929

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Rosina Heikel was a Finnish medical doctor and feminist. From a young age, Heikel believed that access to education should be equal to everyone regardless of gender and decided by 1862 to become a doctor like her brothers. There were no Finnish universities at the time that would allow women to study medicine, so she travelled to Sweden to train in physiotherapy at the Stockholm Gymnastics Institute. She finished the course in 1866 and completed a course in midwifery, and further knowledge in anatomy and physiology. In 1871, she was given special permission to study medicine at the University of Helsinki, and after receiving her medical degree in 1878 became the first woman physician in Finland, as well as the first in the Nordic countries. Heikel was granted a limited license to practice, allowing her to treat women and children. In 1883, she was given the post of gynecologist and pediatrician after registering as a member of the Finnish Medical Society. Outside of medical practice, Heikel was active in the women’s rights movement and the feminist association Naisasialitto Unioni, and was an advocate for children’s health in Finland. She helped to found Konkordia-liitto, an organization for female academics. In 1892, she addressed the Naisasialiitto Unioni to promote equality in educational opportunities for girls and boys.

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