Dutch government to promote, recruit more women in politics

Minister Kasja Ollongren of Home Affairs wants to improve the gender balance in politics by actively focusing on recruiting and interviewing female candidates for the positions of mayor, Minister and King’s Commissioner. Her goal is to have between 40 percent and 60 percent of political positions filled by women in the future, she said in a letter to parliament. 

“In the year that we celebrate 100 years of women’s suffrage, it is important to also consider the representation of women in public administration”, the Minister said. “A good balance between men and women reinforces recognizability, the quality of decision making and our democracy.”

Over the past century, the number of women active in politics and public administration increased steadily. The current cabinet consists of over 40 percent female Ministers, and the share of female mayors and city councilors also increased. “I am happy to see that more and more women are opting for a career in politics and public administration. I hope that these female role models are inspiring for young women, so that we can achieve an even better male-female ratio in the coming years.”

But there are major differences between the municipalities and between provinces. While in some municipalities, like Zoeterwoude, over half of the city councilors are women. Other municipalities have less than 20 percent female councilors, or even a city council composed of only men. “That is why in the coming period I will be working on conditions that make participating in politics as accessible as possible for everyone”, Ollongren said.

The first step will be actively focusing on recruiting female candidates for political positions. The Minister will also look into more inclusive selection procedures, investigate what obstacles women face when trying to enter politics, and address specific needs of women in public functions. She hopes that after the parliamentary elections in 2021 and the municipal elections in 2022 the number of men and women in political and public administration positions will be better balanced. 

“I can only achieve this ambition together with others. It is up to political parties to decide who they will put on their list of candidates. It is up to the voters to decide who they vote for. It is up to councilors to nominate a mayor candidate and up to the King’s Commissioner to advise on this. This is a joint responsibility”, Ollongren said.