Tag Archives: politics

We decide*

15 Apr

’99 – 51.
Does anyone know what that is?
It’s the ratio of men to women in the Dutch House of Representatives today.
In 2018 only one out of three of my colleagues is female.
Exactly one hundred years after the first woman was elected to the Dutch House of Representatives. And that is a shame. A really big shame.
Because, as I am sure I do not need to tell you, the future is female.

Last week, I had three 10 year old girls visiting me in The Hague. These three little feminists interviewed me for a school project about gender equality. They asked me some of the best questions ever.
‘What does being a feminist mean for your career?’ ‘Why do some people not agree that women and men are equal?’ ‘What can we do to change that?’

I told them I think it all starts with equal representation. Because only when women are equally represented in positions of power, we can make a difference and let our voice be heard. Nothing about us without us!

I don’t know about you, but I personally believe that investing in gender equality is the right thing to do. I mean, come on. We are 50% right?
But a growing pile of research shows that it’s not just the right thing to do, but also the smart thing to do.
Because gender equality is not only good for people, it’s also good for countries. Countries where women have access to reproductive health care perform better than countries that don’t. Communities where a bigger percentage of women participate in local government invest more in sanitation and education, and show lower numbers of corruption. When girls go to school, they are healthier and live longer.

It’s not rocket science: development starts with women and girls. Unfortunately, not everybody agrees.
On the contrary, there is a groing group of countries where gender equality is considered controversial. They obviously missed the memo. Cause I hate to break it to them, but the future is really female.

Did you know that at the annual Commission on the Status of Women at the UN, we are negotiating to keep the agreed language that’s already there, in stead of negotiating steps forward? Conservative countries team up with the Holy See and lobby against sexual and reproductive rights, or even the use of the word gender. In Russia, domestic violence is no longer a criminal offense. And the US and their global gag rule have had a huge negative impact on women’s right to choose worldwide.

People without wombs and vaginas deciding on policies affecting wombs and vaginas. And they’re getting away with it.

So that’s why we need equal representation. But we also need solidarity, sisterhood and a strong civil society to raise awareness and put gender on the agenda. And that’s where you come in. Cause it’s only in cooperation with NGO’s, activists, journalists and human rights defenders that we can build a better and more inclusive world. We’re stronger together. There’s more of us. And we decide.’

*speech delivered at the 2018 Africa Day, during the session ‘She Decides in Africa’, on sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Dear America,

4 Nov

In a few days, you’ll get to decide which breaking news the world will witness: the first female president in the White House, or a man who reduces women to their bodies and ‘migrants’ to their religion, lineage or colour of their skin. Yes, ‘migrants’ between quotation marks. Because Mr Trump with his Scottish-German ancestors and his Slovenian wife is just as much a migrant as the ‘bad hombres’ he says he wants to keep out. But that’s another story.

A diabolic dilemma, you say? Choosing between two evils? See, I just don’t quite get that. What is so hard about choosing between an experienced, intelligent, competent woman, and a man who only last week called an African American supporter a thug, and had him removed from the venue. A man being accused of sexual violence by an ever longer list of women and brushes off his own bragging about it as locker room talk. A man who wants to ban muslims from entering your country and wants to build a wall to prevent Mexicans from entering. Should I go on? The list is long, very, very long.

Honestly, I don’t get how this guy of all people made it this far. Someone who filed for bankruptcy several times, who justifies tax evasion and is not afraid to openly question the legitimicy of the elections. Has America really sunk so low that this is the best you have to offer to the world? America, that always knows best what’s good for the rest of the word. Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya; you were the first to intervene, in the name of freedom, human rights and democracy. Not always quite successfully, but let’s not talk about that now. Now, we’re talking about power. And that goes far, very very far. In some countries it’s even easier to get a bottle of Coca Cola than clean drinking water. That’s how far it goes.

Why doesn’t she mind her own business, you may ask. Indeed, why don’t I. After all, we’re only talking about the next president of the United States, the self-proclaimed leader of the free world. With over 2 million troops and reserves and thousands of nuclear weapons, a few of which are even said to be stashed on Dutch soil. But hey, who am I, and those 7 billion world citizens within firing range of your weapons of mass destruction, but without voting rights in your country?

But what about Hillary Clinton and her e-mail issues, you may say. Her relations with Wall Street, dubious donations to the Clinton Foundation, her foreign policy? Not so smart, not so pretty, not something to be particularly proud of. But is it reason enough to call on people to vote for Trump, because you actually wanted to see Bernie Sanders in the White House? Really? Are you serious?

The land of the free and the home of the brave’. I really hope that turns out to be true next week. That you really have the courage to write history.

Dear America, please make America great again. But I mean really.

Kind regards on behalf of the rest of the world,

Kirsten van den Hul

%d bloggers like this: