As part of the celebration of the “200th anniversary of the Basel Mission”, we will start a series of actions to look back on the beginnings and history of this work. We will provide a detailed view of women’s contribution to this process.
In 1842, the “Women’s Association for Female Education in the Pagan Countries” was founded. This women’s association was subordinated to the male committee of the Mission. A female committee was organised as headquarters and centre of coordination. The aim of this female committee was to coordinate the groups or associations for aid and relief throughout Switzerland and southern Germany. The main goal was to train and educate girls and women by creating schools for girls in the territories of the Missions. Soon, the moment came when it was necessary to send trained teachers to put an end to or at least mitigate women’s oppression by means of educating girls. By mid-1840 the first female teachers were sent to work for this aim. And, although just a few women volunteered, only one person at a time was sent. Up to the beginnings of the new century, they were almost exclusively the missionaries’ fiancées or wives.
In 1901 the former “Women’s Association for Female Education in the Pagan Countries” was revived, but this time under a new name: “Association for Women’s Mission”. It had little or nothing to do with the old mission of sending sisters, as the main concern of this new association was to improve their education, were they single or married women. And, although the association continued being an instance of aid and relief belonging to the Basel Mission, it started to grow more and more in importance thanks to the work of these women. This was strengthened by the opening of its own headquarters in 1911.