A women in a lab analyzing a plant with a measurement device.

Did you know that International Women’s Day was first held on March 19th, 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland?Photo of Clara Zetkin.

This was largely due to the efforts of Clara Zetkin, a German social democrat and confidante of Rosa Luxemburg, who fought tirelessly for women’s rights, equal opportunities, and women’s suffrage. Learn more about the history of International Women’s Day and Clara Zetkin’s legacy here.

As an organization that lives and breathes the support of academic studies, research, study abroad and international exchange, we at DAAD thought it fitting to also highlight the achievements of the three German women who have won the Nobel Prize for their contributions to science and humanity.

Herta Mülller

Photo of Herta Müller.

Herta Mülller won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2009 for her literary work addressing “an individual’s vulnerability under oppression and persecution.” She was born in Romania on August 17th, 1953, but was exiled to Germany in 1987, due to her family’s vulnerable position as part of Romania’s German-speaking minority and for her refusal to cooperate with Romania’s secret police.

Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard

Photo of Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard.

Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard was born on October 20th in Magdeburg, Germany, in 1942 and received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1995 for her work on genetic control of early embryonic development. While she does not have children herself, she recognizes that in order to support the next generation of female academics, assistance with childcare is essential, and has started a foundation that helps young scientists by providing financial support for childcare.

Nelly Sachs

Photo of Nelly Sachs.

Born into a Jewish family on December 10th, 1891 in Berlin, the Nazi persecution profoundly impacted Nelly Sachs’ life with several of her family members falling victim to the Holocaust during World War II. Her writing was deeply influenced by this experience and she received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1966. Nelly Sachs’ work was praised for her “outstanding lyrical and dramatic writing, which interprets Israel’s destiny with touching strength.



Sources: www.nobelprize.org; http://www.br.de/themen/wissen/nobelpreis-frauen-preistraegerinnen-100.html; https://www.internationalwomensday.com/About; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clara_Zetkin