Why vote for a woman? The campaign trying to stir up politics

Why vote for a woman? The campaign trying to stir up politics

Strongman, iron lady…the awed terms we give our leaders are all wrong, according to Devika Partiman. This 31-year-old Dutch woman wants to radically change politics in the Netherlands and Europe, so that more people see themselves reflected in a diverse team of politicians. ‘We tend to look at the number one on the list – but he may not be the best politician but is probably the best spokesman, debater or salesman,’ says Partiman.’ The number five might be a former teacher who knows everything about education, and the number seven might be someone from healthcare. There’s no such thing as one best: in a good political system you have people from different backgrounds who make the best group.’ 36% of MPs In the Netherlands, women certainly aren’t well represented amongst their MPs – in fact, since 2010, the proportion of women among the 150 politicians has fallen, from 42.7% to 36% (and the number of women at the top of leading Dutch businesses is  also pitiful). Meanwhile, according to the Dutch statistics office CBS, 50% of the country’s 17.2m people are female. Just before the national elections in 2017, events organiser Partiman had an idea. Why not encourage people to elect a more diverse set of politicians by really looking at the voting system and working out the best way to do this? She started the organisation Stem Op Een Vrouw (vote for a woman), which explains that the best way to get more women represented is to look at the polls for the party you’d like to vote for….and then vote for a woman who is lower than the party’s expected result, on their list of candidates. Under the proportional representation system here, this means that if an MP lower down gets a lot of personal preference votes, they will move up the list – perhaps pushing a woman into the spot rather than a man. 'Brilliant' It’s an idea that Stem op een Vrouw claims got three extra women elected in 2017, and it grabbed the imagination of the jury for the Ribbius Peletier Penning prize jury earlier this year – it gave Partiman the award, for women who promote the position of females in politics, for her ‘brilliant’ way of realising ideas. Partiman, who has Dutch and Surinamese heritage, was inspired by a trip to Suriname in 2016. ‘I was in a museum and I saw a flyer from a Surinamese women’s organisation that did a stem op een vrouw campaign in 1996,’ she says. ‘Then I started looking at politics in the Netherlands and realised that there was some work to be done. 'Voting for women was something a lot of people were already doing but they were voting for the woman highest on the list, so they were all voting for the same person. We started thinking about different tactics, tested a couple, then we created the idea to vote for a woman lower on the list, who are not easily elected. That turned out to be quite a successful strategy.’ European elections The organisation is promoting this strategy for the European elections next week, with a website in English and Dutch profiling all female candidates, and campaign events. Partiman says that there’s plenty to do encouriging people to become active in politics and explaining strange voting ploys – for example, where ‘list pusher’ candidates attract attention but have no intention of taking up a seat, so are low down on the list. ‘I slowly became involved in anti-racism activism around 2012,' she explains. 'We have this character called black Pete, and I got involved in the group Black Piet is Racism. That really opened my eyes – once you see the racism and discrimination you realise how much else is going on, for example, for black women. When Trump was elected was also an important turning point for me: for me this is what happens when you’re not represented enough.’ Although she believes the Netherlands has a relatively free society, Partiman feels a culture of ‘going with the programme’ has stopped people speaking out, while racism is ‘more visible and normalised’ in a social media culture. ‘Not looking someone in the eye makes it easier to misinterpret each other and say things you wouldn’t normally say,’ she says. ‘But I don’t know what has caused the rise of more active discrimination and racism and the extreme right.’ Network The next step for her organisation, which has funding from Stichting Democratie and Media, is to professionalise by raising money and paying its staff – while working to encourage more women into politics and build a support network for female politicians. ‘There’s a lot people don’t know about how the political system works and how you can influence it besides voting,’ she says. ‘You can go into a planning commission, in a working group, join a political party. An important step for us would be to attract young and diverse women and get them to know each other. One big problem is they don’t have the network and support system – and it is a rough world, especially for women.’ She adds that it’s not just politics that needs fixing but representation everywhere: ‘We should be looking who we are as a society, as Europe, as the world, and give all different people a voice. That’s the role of civil representation that everyone can look at a government or municipal council and see themselves, know who to email or talk to, and where the political power lies.’ And does she have a future job as a politician herself? She has a very political answer: ‘Who knows? I’m definitely not saying no!’ How to vote for a woman, explained (In English)  More >



Podcasts galore: English radio in NL

Podcasts galore: From English-language Dutch news to art and useful advice Radio is back and the number of podcasts out there has been growing steadily for years. The Netherlands is no exception and while there are plenty of Dutch-language podcasts, there are also plenty of English-language ones as well. Here’s a roundup of podcasts, in English, about the Netherlands. DutchNews.nl jumped on the podcasting bandwagon years ago and Molly Quell, Gordon Darroch and Paul Peeters take you through the week’s news and, most importantly, the week’s ophefs. The podcast is released every week on Friday afternoon. As far as we know, it’s the only podcast with an official podcast dog, Trouby. Find it on SoundCloud and other podcasting apps: Hosted by Lily-Anne Stroobach, a South African editor and producer, Dutch Buzz covers news in The Hague. The show is broadcast live on Den Haag FM 92.0 every Tuesday from 22:00 to 23:00. You can also find the show on their website: Amsterdam has its own English-language radio as well. Broadcast Amsterdam is on twenty-four...  More >


Podcast: Eurovision Is Worse Than Brexit

DutchNews podcast – The Eurovision Is Worse Than Brexit Edition – Week 20 Plenty of sea changes in this week's podcast as Mark Rutte takes the fight to Thierry Baudet, Sybrand Buma becomes the second coalition party leader to abandon ship in mid-term and Amsterdam's mayor decides not to impose a booze ban on the city's canals. The Hague opts out of the cabinet's plan for legalised cannabis cultivation, there's a poignant edge to Ajax's title celebrations and the food safety board warns people about the dangers of eating filet americain. In our discussion we ask if anyone does, or should, care about next week's European elections. If you'd like to back us on Patreon please follow this link – we'll give you a shout-out and let you ask the podcast team a question. Ophef of the week: Rutte challenges Baudet to TV debate Top story Netherlands suspends military training mission in Iraq News Enschede's mayor brands attack on Syrian refugee family a 'disgrace' Amsterdam's mayor calls alcohol ban on boats 'undesirable' The Hague passes...  More >


A new location for Eindhoven's Expat Fair

Expat Fair & Feel Good Market get a new location in Eindhoven Want to learn Dutch? Find a house? Experience Dutch culture, find a job, make connections, or solve immigration and tax issues? Or just want to have a fun day? You can do it all at the I am not a tourist Expat Fair & Feel Good Market in Eindhoven in June. This year makes it four in a row for the I am not a tourist Expat Fair Eindhoven, organised with the Holland Expat Center South and the event is a prime opportunity for the international community in the south of the Netherlands to get the low-down on life in the ‘low countries’. By the way, If you've been to the fair before, please note, this year it takes place in a bright new location in the Klokgebouw in the city centre. Pick up your free tickets here. On Sunday June 16, 50 specialist exhibitors and more than 1,500 internationals will come together to exchange information, find opportunities, orientation and business contacts. There will be workshops on all sorts of topics: think employment & entrepreneurship,...  More >


Young Dutch Moroccans are doing well: D66

Moroccans are doing very well despite useless integration policy: D66 Despite a worse than useless integration policy, young Dutch Moroccans are doing very well in the Netherlands, write D66 parliamentary party chairman Rob Jetten and integration spokesman Jan Paternotte. It is 50 years ago this week that the Netherlands and Morocco signed to a special deal regulating the migration of Moroccan workers to the Netherlands. Despite a completely inadequate integration policy, integration has been a resounding success as the new and successful generation of Moroccans shows. Although three quarters of the Moroccan ‘gastarbeiders’ who came to this country in the 1060s have returned to Morocco, many decided to stay. They, and their children and grandchildren in particular, have found their place in Dutch society and are putting their stamp on this country’s history. Ajax’ Champions League success couldn’t have happened without Hakim Ziyech, parliament wouldn’t meet without Khadija Arib and the Voice of Holland wouldn’t be the same without...  More >


'Albert Heijn's 35% off is the best thing'

‘My favourite Dutch thing is the 35% off section at Albert Heijn’ Raquel García Hermida-van der Walle is a Spanish national who works for an animal rescue charity and has lived in the small Frisian town of Gorredijk for the past seven years. She is also standing for election to the European parliament on behalf of D66 on May 23. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I met a man from Gorredijk while I was at a bachelorette party in Barcelona. We had a long distance relationship for a while, then it became serious and I decided to move to the Netherlands. That was in 2012. We had a daughter together but have since separated. I now have a new partner, also from Gorredijk, and we have twins together. My first partner and I share the care of our daughter, which is easy in a village. I first came here as an Erasmus student and did the third year of my degree at Utrecht University. I was also working with Survival International, a job which I continued to do remotely for a year. Now I work for Stichting AAP, which is a rescue centre for animals which...  More >


Dutch destinations: Terschelling

Dutch destinations: The Wadden Sea island of Terschelling If you want to get away from it all for a few days, the Wadden Sea island of Terschelling is easy to get to, offers great empty beaches and has enough to keep you busy even if you hit a wet weekend. Terschelling and Texel are the most touristy of the Wadden islands, yet both are very different. Texel is bigger and less dominated by holidaymakers. Terschelling is more an elongated sand dune and tourism is clearly its main source of income. Terschelling can trace its history back to 850, when a small church was built on a sand hill hill near Seerip or Strip in the far south west of the island. It has always been orientated towards the sea and among Terschelling's famous sons and daughters is seafarer Willem Barendz, who survived the winter marooned on the Artic ice in 1597. The island's other main claim to fame is that it is one of two Wadden islands where cranberries grow. You will find a great deal of cranberry-related items - from chutney to cordial - for sale on the island. Things...  More >


Podcast: Swedish Men Are Better Edition

DutchNews podcast – The Swedish Men Are Better Edition – Week 19 The podcast returns from a two-week break to commiserate with Ajax fans over their shock exit from the Champions League, catch up with Forum voor Democratie's fruitless search for a senate leader and find out why the tourist board has started telling visitors to get out of Amsterdam. We also bring you the latest on the arrest of a suspected serial killer and why organic labelling is less wholesome than it sounds. In our discussion we take a deep dive into the statistics that show the Dutch spend more than their European peers on mortgages and healthcare but less on holidays. Ophef of the week: Yellow vests slated for refusing to shake Rutte's hand (video) Top story Baudet's mentor turns down post of Senate leader for FvD News Triple murder suspect described as 'intelligent but somber' young man Hundreds of organic labelled food products fail to comply with rules Harassment and academic sabotage found to be rife at Dutch universities Dutch tourist board pledges...  More >


Organic food scandal needs addressing

Organic food scandal highlights farmer and inspection failures This week broadcaster RTL found that hundreds of Dutch organic food producers were being allowed to sell their products as organic, even though they did not meet all the rules. Organic expert Hugo Skoppek says the findings are a national scandal. I am simply shocked. Nothing in life is 100%, but the fact that RTL investigators found hundreds of 'organic' products on sale that do not fully comply with the regulations for organic food in the Netherlands is indeed scandalous. We hear contemptuous statements about the organic integrity of producers in developing countries, implying that something like that does not exist in the Netherlands. Well, apparently it does. Organic farming is a challenging enterprise and requires farmers to have a wide variety of skills and experience. But given a certain degree of understanding, it allows farmers to operate with relative ease. From the type of violations reported by RTL nieuws, it appears that the farmers in question do not only...  More >


Traditional windmills you can visit

Blowin’ in the wind: traditional windmills you can visit in the Netherlands What’s the first thing that springs to mind when most people think of the Netherlands? If this were a question on a game show, windmills would probably be the number one answer. If you’ve never experienced the joys of climbing to the top of one of these ubiquitous structures, or merely drinking a biertje beside one, here’s a few that you can visit (and, in some cases, even spend the night in).  Zaanse Schans - Zaandam Okay, let’s get the most obvious ones out of the way first. What’s it like to actually visit the country’s best known windmills? In a word: crowded, especially during the summer months. Visitors and residents alike are daunted by the mobs that pour out of tour buses like clockwork every day between April and October to clog up the small community’s picturesque lanes, museums, windmills and, yes, no less than six gift shops. If you’re unwilling to put up with conditions comparable to Disney World, plan your visit for the off-season. It’s a trek...  More >


Dutch energy prices among highest in EU

After a €30 rise in January, Dutch energy prices among highest in EU You will have noticed the sharp jump in your energy costs at the beginning this year - but even without the tax increase that helped push up bills, the cost of gas and electricity in the Netherlands is far above the EU average. Research by energy provider comparison website Energievergelijk.nl has shown that consumer prices for electricity and gas in the Netherlands are far above the average prices in the EU. The energy site used data from the Household Energy Price Index (HEPI) to study the different price of energy around the EU. The research found that in January 2019, Dutch electricity prices rose 15% in one fell swoop, while gas prices rose 12% - the second highest increase within the EU. The price of gas in the Netherlands is now among the highest in Europe - not because gas costs more but because of high energy taxes. 'Over 50 percent of the Dutch gas price consists of taxes. This is more than any other EU-country,' says Koen Kuijper of Energievergelijk. Want to save...  More >