Political Parties Working Together for Women’s Rights

The Hague, December 6, 2012 – Dutch politics is deeply divided on a wide range of topics, but today there is one topic that unites parties from left to right: Women. In an article published by Wo=Men, we read that nine parties signed the Gender Multiparty Initiative: Women the Motor for Development, on December 6th. This initiative is only the second party-wide parliamentary initiative in Dutch parliamentary history. The Netherlands has a multiplicity of parties, with at the moment two in government, the Liberal Party (VVD) and the Labor Party (PVDA). The nine parties that agreed today to work together in the area of women’s rights are the VVD, PvdA, the Democratic Party (D66), The Christian Democrats (CDA), the Christian Union, the Green Party (Groen Links), the Socialist Party (SP), 50plus – a new party devoted to the interests of the older generation – and the Party for Animals (PvdD). The President of the Initiative is Ingrid de Caluwé (VVD). Sjoerd Sjoerdsma (D66) and Marit Maij (PvdA) are Vice Chairs.

“From the Arab region to conflict zones: women make a significant contribution to global development, peace and democracy. Through the creation of a broad parliamentary cooperation, the Netherlands can now stand squarely behind these brave women and girls, and support them in their struggle for equal rights”, the article says.

“Just how important Dutch support for the position of women is, is demonstrated in Egypt,” the article continued. It quotes Hibaaq Osman of the women’s organization Karama: “I read an article last year in Time Magazine ‘Thank you for the revolution, but go back home now’. That is typical of what has happens in many revolutions: women participate actively and subsequently have no voice in the reforms.”

The initiative took its first big step in June of this year, just before the end of the parliamentary sitting and before the old Cabinet made way for the new. In June, seven parties signed a declaration in which their spokespeople announced that it was time to focus on gender. Since then, a new coalition leads the country, and new ministers have taken the reigns in many ministries. At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lilianne Ploumen is now Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation. Minister Ploumen entered her new position with a drastically reduced budget relative to the previous year. Minister Ploumen has a deep understanding of women and development, having been a former director of Mama Cash, the women’s funding organisation, and director of Cordaid, the Catholic Organisation for Relief and Development Aid.

“The initiative launched today is a sequel to that declaration. The goal is to anchor gender in all aspects of foreign policy, and especially in the field of international cooperation. The nine signatories agree that gender has to stay firmly on the agenda at home and abroad. They will do this for example by conducting research and by jointly submitting motions and amendments,” the article concludes.

Congratulations are due to Elisabeth van der Steenhoven, her staff and the members of Wo=Men, who have been campaigning for this cooperation. Wo=Men is a network organisation, set up five years ago by entrepreneurs, development organisations, and knowledge institutions, who understood that combining each other’s knowledge, resources and talents provides a faster route to achieving the goal of gender parity worldwide, than working side by side (or worse, getting tangled in each others ‘strategies’!)

This article was originally published on the Wo=MEN website and the translation in English on the NETSHEILA Facebook page. LIKE the page and continue to get updates on the power of networks for good.

Lin McDevitt-Pugh


Lin McDevitt-Pugh MBA is an active member of Wo=Men and has been from the start. She has provided strategic communication training and strategic development training to the staff and working groups. Lin is director of NETSHEILA and is passionate about people working together to create futures we believe in.

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