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Why bother?

11 Apr

Do you know that feeling, that you’d rather not watch the news? Because all it seems to bring are tales of sorrow, suffering and shameful selfishness? Bombings, refugee crisis, Panama papers, abortion debate, US elections.. sometimes it seems like we are not moving forward at all, but rather flipping back through the darkest pages of history.

And the weird thing is: the truth is often more absurd than the most far fetched conspiricy theory. So sometimes, it seems a whole lot easier to become a pessimist or an escapist than a pro-activist. To think: ‘why bother’ and go shopping instead. Been there, done that (and have the closet to prove it). But does it change anything, really?

Fortunately, I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by lots of optimists, who, like me, believe that change does not just occur; it’s a verb: you have to just do it. Like the people behind the amazing ‘Harmony for Peace‘, whose annual concert at the Peace Palace in The Hague I will be hosting this month, with talented kids from all over the country performing together in the name of peace and cross-cultural understanding.

Or my wonderful coachee Saskia Stolz of the Power of Art House, who developed Moving People, to give refugees a face and voice, which she is presenting at Harvard, Yale and Columbia this week. You GO girl!

Or gender equality expert Jens van Tricht, founder of Emancipator, who will join us at the Gender @ The Lighthouse programme at Haagse Hogeschool for the Gender for Dummies event this week. Tell me: how often do you get the chance to hear a MAN talk about gender equality?

And speaking about gender equality, I will go back to my home town later this month, the lovely village of Bathmen, where I will join Vrouwen van Nu to talk about my book (S)hevolution and what we can do to change the world ourselves. Because isn’t that the best remedy in days of despair and devastation: being the change we want to see in this world?

And to the sceptics, who doubt whether all this will make any difference, who still say: why bother? Let me ask you this: when did doing nothing ever change anything?

Without change, no butterflies!

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The same question each year

5 Mar

Around this time each year, I get asked the same question.

‘International Women’s Day, is that really still necessary?’

I always give the same answer. YES!

Unfortunately, it still is.

Why? Because men and women still do not have equal rights, equal access, equal power, equal representation, equal safety.

Some examples:

This week, the Inter-Parliamentary Union reported that in 2015, only less than a quarter of MPs worldwide were women.

So much for representative democracy.

The representation of women in conflict resolution is even lower: only 8% of all participants in peace negotiations between 1992 and 2011 were women. And only 3% of all peace treaties was signed by a woman.

Speaking about representation: last week, waiting at an Amsterdam bus stop, I took this picture of an ad campaign:

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Suit Supply campaign in the streets of Amsterdam

 

Wrong on so many levels, that I don’t even want to begin to explain why.

Fortunately, the massive outcry that followed did lead to cities removing the campaign from their bus stops altogether. But the damage was already done. How about scrutinizing campaigns before putting them up?

Yes, sexism is everywhere – yet often so hard to acknowledge. ‘Aren’t you being a bit over-sensitive now?’ or ‘Don’t go all feminist on me darling’, or even ‘You must be having your period’ are only some of the reactions I got while trying to discuss sexist situations in daily professional life. That’s why I wholeheartedly support the #geengrapje (no joke) campaign by the Dutch Young Socialists and said yes when they asked me to be in their campaign video:

 

But that’s not all I do this Women’s Day.

On March 7th, I host a Transgender Seminar at The Hague University of Applied Science,

On March 8th, I host an intergenerational panel on feminism then and now,

within the framework of the amazing Mama Cash project More than a Muse,

And on March 12th, I host the FNV (Dutch Federation of Trade Unions) Women’s Day event 

(for more upcoming events, have a look here)

As American poet Audre Lorde said: ‘We‘ve been taught that silence would save us. But it won’t.’

Happy International Women’s Day!

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