120 Dutch municipalities never had a female mayor
120 of the current 355 Dutch municipalities have never had a female mayor, including four that have also never had any female aldermen, according to figures collected by knowledge platform De Collegetafel for Binnelands Bestuur.
Five of the country's ten largest municipalities have never had a female mayor - Rotterdam, Eindhoven, Groningen, Tilburg and Breda. Femke Halsema, mayor of Amsterdam, is the first woman to hold that position in the Dutch capital.
The four municipalities that never had a female alderman are Drunten in Gelderland, Staphorst in Overijssel, and Woensdrecht and Mill en Sint Hubert in Noord-Brabant. Drunten currently has a female mayor, but Corry van Rhee-Oud Ammerveld is only an interim mayor. At the moment, there are 103 Dutch municipalities with only male aldermen.
According to researcher Henk Bouwmans, the largest municipal male strong holds have either Protestant-Christian parties as the dominant parties, or large local parties.
Today 85 of the 355 mayors in the Netherlands are women, about 24 percent of the total.
"We are catching up," mayor Miranda de Vries of Etten-Leur said to NOS. She is the only woman in her office of mayor and aldermen. According to De Vries, practice shows that a diverse board is a more powerful board. That means having a good mix of gender, age and ethnicity. "To achieve that, it is sometimes necessary to make extra efforts. For example, don't only wait and see which people will apply for a position, but also actively approach some and make them believe they are suitable."
Role models are also very important, she said. "It is really important that Amsterdam, in the person of Femke Halsema, now has a female mayor for the first time in history. And that Sharon Dijksma has been appointed in Utrecht as the third woman in history. I also say it to girls during school visits: If I can become mayor, why not you?"