Our woman in NY

10 Dec

Every couple of months, a group of women meets at my kitchen table, or elswhere. “The Table of Ten” we call ourselves. Ten colorful ambitious women on our way to the top of the cultural, social, financial and political world. No “old boys” but “new girls”, committed to the cause of sisterhood. Helping each other out, sharing our networks, our fears and our success.
It works, as was once more proven when one of the Ten mailed me the vacancy for UN Women’s Representative. “This has your name written all over it!” she wrote.

It did. The situation of women worldwide and around me was and continues to be one of the biggest sources of inspiration in my work as a change agent. Raised by a single mom, I knew at a very young age that this was still a man’s world, where women had to work harder to be heard, seen and paid.

“You’re not one of them feminists are you?” people often ask me when I’m at it again, preaching participation and equal access. As a matter of fact, I am.

Dr Martin Luther King once said “Freedom is never voluntary given by the oppressor. It must be demanded by the oppressed.” That to me is what feminism is all about. Demanding equal rights, equal access, equal pay, untill the day men and women are not only equal in numbers, but in all aspects of life.

Since the birth of the United Nations, arguably one of the biggest experiments in participation ever undertaken, the Netherlands send a Women’s Representative to address the UN General Assembly to make sure the voice of women is heard. A long list of sheroes, among them Marga Klompé, Holland’s first female minister, crossed the Atlantic and made themselves heard. The vacancy my friend sent me, was for the 2011 Women’s Representative. I applied and, as was announced last week, the Dutch Women’s Council selected me to be presented as “our woman in NY”.

I’m looking forward to use this opportunity given to me to make more people aware that an inclusive world works better for all of us. Rather than talking about problems, I’d like to talk about solutions. How do we make sure talent does not go to waste and that each voice is being heard? How do we ensure equal access to education, jobs and political power?

The coming months, I’ll be meeting lots of people to ask them these and other questions, building my case as I prepare to address the UN General Assembly in autumn next year. Will you help me? After all, “a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” (Margaret Mead).

Without change no butterflies!

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