Too many women are financially dependent on their men and should be able to support themselves, education and culture minister Jet Bussemaker says in an interview with Saturday’s Trouw.
Bussemaker, who sent a new briefing on emancipation to parliament on Friday evening, told Trouw too many women do not realise that if their husband’s salaries disappear through divorce or unemployment, ‘the family will have nothing to fall back on’.
Bussemaker also took women to task for giving up their careers when they have children. Just one in five Dutch women work more than 35 hours a week.
‘It is too often the case that the educational performance and level of women does not translate into career choices,’ she said. ‘Of course it helps if childcare is properly organised. But women have to stop feeling guilty about their families. They should sooner feel guilty about all the investment the government has done in them.’
Even with the student loan system, the government will still be paying €6,000 a year for every student, she said. Women are going to universities and colleges in ever greater numbers and graduating with good degrees, she said.
But as soon as they have children, men forge a career and women stay home with a small part-time job. Pointing out that 48% of Dutch women are not financially independent, the minister said: ‘If we realise that one in three Dutch marriages breaks up, then this shows the financial trouble women can end up in.’
The minister’s comments have led to a heated debate via the social media, with former GroenLinks leader Femke Halsema praising the minister’s decision to deal with such a sensitive issue.
Others said women’s position in the jobs market has been hit by her government’s policy of cutting childcare benefits.
MP Elbert Dijkgraaf, of the fundamentalist Christian party SGP, said Bussemaker’s politics are ‘old-fashioned’. According to Bussemaker, ‘women have to be able to do everything and more besides,’ Dijkgraaf said on Twitter.
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