The Glass Ceiling in the Netherlands (for women to rise high level responsibility), Part I – The Dutch Paradox (a discussion) – Dr. Eva Latham, President, Human Rights Teaching International in The Hague, feels the problem in the Netherlands has deep, and unique, cultural roots:
Eva Latham – Netherlands
“It is not only that men do nothing to promote equality in policy measures, but what I observe is also that women who have the power to push for those policies, do not do so. Mostly these are women who themselves got through the glass ceiling by the help of their relationship with men on an individual basis, be it in politics or otherwise. So what you see in the Netherlands, at least when you see women who have broken through the glass ceiling, is that other mechanisms than “gender equality policies” were the reason.
It will take some generations for them to see that they have equal rights and should not see their rights as “favours”. Those women who demand their rights, have a difficult road to walk. Although policy makers know exactly what the situation is, because they are part of it, they keep on doing more and more research, and never come up with effective policies. No one is really going to challenge the situation as they do in the UK or the US, because that means suicide for one’s own career in the polder model (consensus society).
Regarding “dat lost zich vanzelf op” (the situation will solve itself): this remark is made to buy time. Of course it will solve itself, because of demographic reasons. Eventually the labour shortage will mean that even women will have to be included, but this will take a very long time. So everyone can continue to feel comfortable with their current positions and not feel threatened by “gender equality”.”
The solution may take a very long time indeed. State Secretary for Social Affairs and Employment Annelies Verstand recently called for the percentage of women holding higher positions in government and corporate organisations be doubled from the present ten to 20% by the year 2004. Many would argue that attaining this goal is unlikely at best, and the goal itself falls far short of the equality mark while also doing nothing to address the fact that the wage gap between men and women in the Netherlands is one of the largest in Europe, with women receiving almost 25% less than men on average.
“Legislation existing on paper is only one side of the story, since rights must be put into practice – millions of women still face a daily struggle for their human dignity,” Eva Latham of the Netherlands lamented.
UN Press Release about the Fifty-Fifth General Assembly, Third Committee, 14th meeting, 9 October 2000:
… EVA LATHAM (Netherlands) noted that her country had a good tradition of appointing a woman to its delegation in order to make a statement on behalf of its women. She pointed out the importance of credibility and accountability in regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. That document was meant for women, because human rights were also women’s rights. The fact that legislation existed on paper was only one side of the story, since those rights must be put into practice, thereby eliminating the enormous discrepancy between paper and practice. Millions of women still faced a daily struggle for their human dignity; moreover, those who were educated to live an emancipated life must also fight gender discrimination, such as exclusion from appropriate employment, financial and economic disadvantage, prejudice, sexual harassment, and violence against women.
Human rights, she continued, were violated wherever the principles of the Declaration were ignored or abandoned. Abuses that women endured, such as trafficking in women, domestic violence, genital mutilation and crimes of honour should not be tolerated. There was only one ethical yardstick, which is the Universal Declaration of Human rights. The Declaration was a document with agreements on high moral standards for humanity. Action must be taken on three levels: (1) at the macro level, where governments establish additional legal instruments concerning human rights and women’s rights; (2) at the meso level, where organizational responsibility was needed to change perceptions and attitudes; and (3) at the micro level, where the individual received an education at the grassroots level on women’s rights, which was a necessity for both sexes. Women welcomed support and partnership with governments, with the United Nations and with men. She closed by observing that women would continue the struggle until the promise of the Universal Declaration was fulfilled. (Read on UNHCHR Press release).
Peace Council in Europe.