April 8, 2018

‘We want more women in municipal councils’, say Dutch voters, but political parties disagree

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 2:40 pm

billboard-branko-collinPreferential voting in last month’s municipal elections in the Netherlands has caused a drastic increase of female representatives, newspaper Trouw reported two weeks ago.

The campaign Stem op een Vrouw (vote for a woman) encouraged citizens to vote tactically by voting for a woman the polls suggested would just miss out on being elected. The result was an increase of 20% women in the Dutch municipal councils.

Municipal councils in the Netherlands are elected once every four years. A council sets the policy for its municipality and supervises the municipality’s executive board. A party receives its portion of the available seats based on the percentage of votes they win. The council seats are distributed among the candidates that make up the top of the party list, but if a lower ranked candidate gets a lot of votes, they bump the lowest candidate of the primary selection from her or, as the case may be, his seat.

In the previous four years, a record-breaking 28% of council members were women, but this year the new record was set at 34%. Citizens gave women a preferential vote across all party lines, although the effect was most noticeable for candidates of D66 (Democrats), Groen Links (Greens) and SP (Socialists).

Most resistant to the idea of female council members turned out to be the political parties and the candidates themselves. In 334 of the 335 municipalities, men dominated the party list, NOS reported in March. In the one town where there was an equal amount of male and female candidates, Heemstede, the male party leaders still outnumbered the female party leaders 2:1.

Both PvdA (Labour) and SP had their candidates sign a waiver, stating they would give up their seat if they got in on preferential votes. Several female Socialists gave up their council seats. The waiver has no legal force according to John Bijl of the Perikles institute: “You swear loyalty to the law and the constitution, not to your political party.” In Woerden, local party Inwonersbelangen (Citizens’ Interests) threw Lia Arentshorst out of the party after she refused to give up her seat.

The campaign Vote for a Woman was founded by Devika Partiman after a campaign with the same name from the 1990s in Surinam. The campaign also ran during the previous parliamentary elections, where the effect was more subdued, presumably due to the fact that the representation of women in parliament has historically been greater already.

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March 12, 2014

Nothing’s changed in Dutch women’s position at the bottom

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 10:25 am

The title of the Dutch Daily News article says it all: ‘The Netherlands ranks in bottom 10 performing countries for women in business’. “The Netherlands cites just 10 percent of senior roles occupied by women, a minute decrease from the previous year (11 percent).” This says nothing about the preponderance of Dutch women running small businesses, because that’s actually good news.

Every year around International Women’s Day (8 March) the Dutch government says it wants more women in top positions, but at the same time, its policies continue to perpetrate an insidious tradition of having new moms stay at home sometimes for years and then maybe pick up some part-time work. What’s more, lots of women without children have part-time jobs because they have a man paying the real bills, continuing a pattern that has outlived its use. However, it is true that part-time work is much more protected than in other countries and that you can still earn some decent money, albeit not enough to have the luxuries that many women enjoy as paid by their man’s full-time job.

While part-time work in other Western countries is associated with students and pensioners, in the Netherlands it is slowly turning into a synonym for unambitious Dutch women by the media. Personally, this hurts because I can think of dozens of women that work like crazy and don’t fit this bill, even remotely. And I say Dutch because apparently many immigrants don’t have options and work their lesser paid asses off, male of female, kids or no kids. We never hear them talking about having a choice, either, that’s for the more privileged group to defend.

The government blames big business, big business blames women having children (as if men weren’t part of the process), women with children blame childcare and childcare blames the government.

What I’ve learnt over the years is that many women don’t want to work more hours, but that’s easy to do when the rest of the money comes in as long as you keep your relationship intact. Part-time work for women is seen as normal, whereas elsewhere in Europe it’s seen as shortchanging someone out of a real job. However, part-time work remains career killer number one, that’s why men work full-time and remain chairmen of the board, not women.

In 2014, as far as having women in high places, The Netherlands is still the ‘unemancipated 1950s housewife’ of Western Europe.

2013: Lack of women in top management roles in the Netherlands

2012: Dutch women are unequal, change is slow and ‘Some 60% of women cannot earn their own keep’

2010: Women with partners prefer part-time jobs

2009: Women have low impact on Dutch work force

(Link: www.dutchdailynews.com, Photo of Birthday cake by C J Sorg, some rights reserved)

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