Suffragette. Pauline Matidle Schlüter Bajer fought for women's rights and peace her entire adulthood. Known as “Matidle,” she and her husband, Fredrik Bajer, were the co-founders of the Danish Women's Society in 1871, which supported women's rights. Her husband would become the 1908 Nobel Peace Prize recipient. The stated reason for the society was "improve the intellectual, moral and economic status of women, and make them an active and independent member of the family and the nation." In 1885 she was co-founder and a leading member of the political wing of the Women's Progress Association, which fought for women's suffrage, and succeeded in 1915 with the vote. After meeting the English Quaker and pacifist, Priscilla Hannah Peckover at the Nordic Women's Meeting in 1888, she became a colleague of Peckover. Bajer was financially sponsored by Peckover to attend international peace meetings and Peckover translated into English many of Fredrik Bajer's weekly journals, published by the Society of Nordic Free States. Bajer was the daughter of a landowner and had many siblings, who immigrated to Russia, the United States and Germany. After knowing Fredrik Bajer since childhood, she became engaged to marry him at the age of sixteen. As a married couple, they shared each other's interests and were devoted to each other. They had seven children. Through the years, the couple had many financial worries and often received from journalists the blunt of their liberal left-wing politics. Absorbed in the Danish Women's Association of Suffrage Federation, she would march, carry signs and protest for women's rights, and she was even known to throw a brick. She served as her husband's secretary and close adviser as he served in the Danish House of Representatives. In the field of women's issues, she was his mentor, who had convinced him, as a young man, of the relevance of the women's issues, changing his old-fashioned view of women, thus as a Member of Parliament, he introduced women's reforms. In 1880, the Law on the Disposition of Married Women was passed, which gave women the right to spend the money that they earned and in some cases, own property. In 1906 after world-famous Austrian author, pacifist, and recently Nobel Peace Prize recipient Bertha von Suttner visited Copenhagen for a presentation, Bajer founded the Danish Women's Peace Association. At the dawn of World War I in 1914, her confidence as a pacifist was almost shattered, yet she was still demanding diplomatic settlement of conflicts. As a mother, she had concerns for two of her daughters, who were married to German husbands, living among the battlefields of this war. To her reasoning, the world understood waging war but not waging peace. She joined the Danish Women's Peace Chain, an association that was started from the women's international peace meeting in The Hague in 1915, which later developed into the Women's International League for Freedom and Peace. She and her husband believe that women's political emancipation was related to education, thus they opened feminist libraries and the Women's Reading Society, yet unmarried middle-aged women were mainly the only ones using the facilities. It was documented that a national decline in infant mortality came with women's education. After her husband's death in 1922, she continued his work with her son's assistance. In 1931 she received the coveted Danish Medal of Merit in Gold for her work with Women's Rights and Peace.
Bio by: Linda Davis