People here in the Netherlands always seem to think that emancipation with the one- and-a-half income model means that the country is doing well on the scales of equality. They are always surprised when I say I find the country lagging behind New Zealand in this respect, big time. People still look at me weirded out that I work full time. Mind you, full time in my job is 38 hours a week, which compared to the hours I am used to is pretty much part time as it is.
When I mentioned that NZ was ahead of the gender equality race to my beautician when I was having a facial, my beautician was amazed by my statement. She is of the opinion that it is all pretty OK. This is until I pointed out the (albeit brief) period that NZ was mostly ruled by woman: Helen Clark – Prime minister (she’s gone now since the last election this month), Dame Sian Elias (head of the supreme court) Dame Silvia Cartwright (until 2006), Jenny Shipley (leader of the opposition (Ok she was the first one of the five out in 2001) and Theresa Gattung (former CEO of Telecom NZ largest company).
She admitted that this was a constellation that would not happen in the Netherlands any time soon. After all only one party has a female as its leader (Green-Left – Femke Halsema) not counting TON as that is not a party by its own admission.
I also pointed out that the pay/hour gap between genders is less than here in the Netherlands. She was like ‘Oh, I did not expect that.’
I was talking to a co-worker about this. She grew up in Sweden and Denmark and we were just ripping the (in)equality to shreds in the Netherlands. She works part time, not by choice, but because it is nearly impossible with small children to work full time. After school childcare is an absolute abomination for the word (Pick up kid before 5pm, or 5.30pm or else) and excessively expensive.
Yet, with the latest find, I feel 100% vindicated in my assessment on the situation. On the global gender gap report New Zealand scores rank 5 in the world. Netherlands 12th. While the latter is not to be sneezed at, the differences are remarkable. Certainly when you look at where the differences occur. You guessed it, a large part in the differences are in the participation in the workforce and the ability to grow a good career.
Now this is not about NZ being a better place than the Netherlands, not at all. But it shows that the NZ is not a bad place to be and that women still have things to strive for here. Also by pointing this out, a lot of people here see New Zealand in a different light. A country that is more conservative than the Netherlands in some ways, but also more progressive in other ways.
Now if I could just merge the best things about the two countries, that would pretty much be my utopia.