Liesje Schreinemacher announces pregnancy; First ever maternity leave for Dutch Minister
Caretaker Minister Liesje Schreinemacher for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation is pregnant, she announced in the Telegraaf on Monday. She will be the first-ever Dutch Minister to take maternity leave, though it’s not regulated like that in the handbook for Cabinet members.
“It’s a very special experience,’ Schreinemacher told the newspaper about her early pregnancy. The VVD Minister will take maternity leave for “a few months,” as is customary. “And whether I will return as a Minister, of course, depends on how long the formation process lasts.”
The Rutte IV government collapsed in July and is ruling the country in a “caretaker” state until a new Cabinet takes over. The parliamentary elections will happen on November 22, and it will likely take a few months until a new Cabinet is formed.
Remarkably, there is nothing arranged for pregnant Ministers in the Netherlands. The handbook for Ministers has no regulation for pregnancy or maternity leave. Schreinemacher will have to report sick, the manual prescribes. The Cabinet member “remains a Minister or State Secretary even during her absence and is remunerated as such, just as in the case of illness.” Another Cabinet member will handle Schreinemacher’s duties during her absence.
“Of course, it feels special that I am the first Minister who is pregnant,” she told the Telegraaf. “It is special, but it would be good if it became normal quickly. If we want to make politics and other high positions an attractive and workable place for young women, we must ensure that there is room for this and that it is normal. Just as young fathers should be able to combine work with parenthood.”
Schreinemacher will not be on the VVD candidate list for parliament in the upcoming elections. “My pregnancy played no role in that,” she said. Her ambition is to be a good member of a Cabinet, she said. “Whether I get that chance again in the next Cabinet depends entirely on how the cards are shuffled, whether the VVD is looking for someone with my profile, and whether it is a post that I think suits me.”
Schreinemacher is the first ever Dutch Minister to be pregnant, but not the first Cabinet member. That title went to Karien van Gennip (CDA) in 2004, when she was State Secretary of Economic Affairs in the Balkende II Cabinet.