Marianne I. Spangenberg- Carlier "Main issues concerning gender in the Netherlands"

Marianne I. Spangenberg- Carlier

- Master of Arts ( = drs in the Netherlands) in political science and international law

- Bachelor of Arts in sociology and a minor in psychology

Vice-president of the D’66 Women/Men/ Human Rights Committee’

Was on the D’66 list for the national elections for Parliament in 2010

Active member of the International Federation of University Women.(IFUW) Consultant in the areas of innovation policy, entrepreneurship, diversity and corporate social responsibility.

Advisory board member of a number of organizations due to long experience in industry and public - private partnerships.

Main issues concerning gender in the Netherlands

Special focus on the economic/financial independence of women, as this is not yet the case.

The impact of some specific elements in Dutch culture:

- Married women were not allowed to work until 1956.

They should stay at home to take care of their (future) children. (Motherhood)

- A non-working wife increased the status of a man.

- Calvinistic protestant culture, with strong emphasis on the importance of family

- No financial necessity.

- Import of foreign workers, so no labor shortage.

Change in the sixties & seventies:

- Birth control

- Religion becomes less important

- Forecasting showed a shortage of labor (women were having less and later children)

Situation today

- For the first time more girls than boys finished a higher education last year.

- Women still do most of the house work and care-taking.

- Only 7 % of women are in high positions in companies (in spite of special projects such as “Opportunity in Business” and diversity policies of multinationals) In governmental organizations there are about 20% women in higher positions.

- Shortage of labor expected after the economic crisis passes

Government policy now: To stimulate women to work more hours!

Until recently 80% of women worked in jobs less than 12 hours and often stopped after their first child was born. At least 25 % of them want to work more hours.

Highest work participation of women in the EU (71.5%) together with Denmark.

Still strong belief: mother is the best caretaker of children.

Programme of the D’66 for the next 4 years:

- Adaptation of fiscal measures to the situation that both men/women work e.g. independently taxed (and no longer the so-called “kitchen subsidy”)

- More equal share of work and care tasks, e.g. paternity leave increase from 2 days to 2 weeks.( maternity leave is now 16 weeks and the EU suggests to make it 24 weeks)

- To abolish pay differences between women/men (that is now about 22%, this is higher than the EU average)

- Co-parenting contracts (after a divorce both parents remain responsible for their children)

- Childcare facilities: sufficient, good quality and affordable.

- Government policy should be neutral towards various "family forms", such as two homosexuals living together.

- Health insurance: include birth control pill.

- Ending of a pregnancy is a decision of the woman and doctor ( up to 24 weeks )

- Sufficient facilities to be able to combine motherhood with a career.

- Forced marriages should be punished under the law.

Every citizen is equal for the law and should be treated equally.

Equal opportunities are essential for an open and free society.

This principle gets undermined by discrimination.

Women organizations and supported by some academics desire:

- Quota (research has shown that diversity in the boardroom leads to better business results)

- Diversity measures at Universities which results in a higher percentage of female professors.

- New forms of working (create more flexibility through social and organizational innovation that work and care can be combined easily)

- Government campaign needed that girls also take up technical studies which can enhance their career possibilities in the labor market.

- Educate girls/women in financial planning.

- Adequate pension schemes. (females have less pension rights than males in the same age bracket)

How to achieve these goals:

- Legislation (also EU and UN pressure)

- Government subsidies for e.g. childcare facilities.

- Keep schools open in line with working hours (offer extracurricular activities such as sports)

- Government campaign to redress stereotyping.

- Emancipation monitoring in government- and other organizations.

- Lobbying and networking of (women) groups at all levels of society.

An example:

A political platform on gender exists, the so-called P.V.O. (Politiek Vrouwen Overleg) in which almost all political parties have a representative. They get together monthly to get expert advice from academics on the basis of which the PVO comes to joint recommendations to improve the position of women. They then discuss their shared views with the relevant minister and members of parliament in order to achieve government support.

Their work is also supported by many women's groups such as female entrepreneurs in the Netherlands and the European Women's Lobby (EWL) , to which 2500 organizations belong

To ensure progress in the adaptation of:

1) gender-related legislation, full integration of women's rights

2) gender-equality perspective in European social and economic policies

To conclude:

The Netherlands still have a way to go but progress is being made due to private and public initiatives and local, national and supranational governmental bodies.

Supporting each other's initiatives in this area of gender/human rights and overcoming stereotyping is essential in order to move forward.