Reigniting Your Purpose: Bette Adriaanse
“In my family there was a joke that the only thing a woman ever invented
was the teabag. I always knew it was a joke, but as a child I could not name a
single thing a woman had invented. Even then, it made me uneasy and sad.”
It’s an anecdote that has stayed with writer and visual artist
Bette Adriaanse her whole life.
Born in Amsterdam and raised in Alkmaar, Bette has since forged a successful creative career. Her artwork blends various mediums and materials, while her debut novel, Rus Like Everyone Else, was published in the US, the UK, and in the Netherlands, all to great acclaim.
But despite her professional accomplishments, Bette still found herself conflicted.
“It took me many years to shed the gendered expectations I had of myself and truly dare to say and do what I believe in,” describes Bette. It was this shift that led her to a new area of focus altogether.
In 2019, alongside Rod DeWeese and later joined by Anne Vaxelaire and Maya Arov Throsby, Bette founded TRQSE (pronounced Turquoise), a global network for makers and thinkers who want to enact social change.
And it was through this network that they launched the Heroines! Movement.
We wanted to be part of a positive change for the new generation, inspiring girls to dream big and to chase those dreams. A worldwide collaboration of artists, writers, change-makers and scientists, the movement is comprised of local Heroines! teams creating children’s books that chronicle the
untold achievements of local heroines.
Publish locally by Gottmer, the first book is set to be released in the Netherlands this year. It’s written by the Dutch writer Babs Gons, winner of the Black Achievement Award in arts and culture and the Global UNESCO Spoken Word competition, and illustrated by the brilliant Femme ter Haar, who has just won the Fiep Westendorp Award.
“We’re very proud of it!,” says Bette. “Belgium, Qatar, Egypt, Kenya, Slovenia, Palestine, Singapore, and Ireland are coming soon.”
Furthermore, as part of a Gofundme campaign, the Nepali Heroines! Movement is preparing to donate 5,000 children’s books to schools in remote and urban areas.
Why books? Why heroines?
“From the scientists we work with we have learned that children are highly influenced by role models. From about seven years old, kids start looking at the world around them, and they mimic behaviours of the people they identify with,” explains Bette.
When we have stories from our own communities, where the children can see that these women are from similar villages and cities, and that they have the same type of struggles, but they made it through, it tells them: ‘it is possible.’