I find this interesting – gender equality

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.


About Gilraen

My blog is simply about my life. I moved countries for the first time in 1993. I lived in the Netherlands, UK and NZ. The initial idea was to keep my overseas friends up-to-date with what was going on in my life. The blog, like me, is always changing and evolving.
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One Response to I find this interesting – gender equality

  1. Gilraen says:

    netheandersen wrote on Nov 16, ’08, edited on Nov 16, ’08
    Thanks for putting in the link for The Gender Gap Report. Very interesting read!
    I see that Denmark is rank 8, almost perfectly in between Netherlands and NZ. You wish for a merge between NZ and the Netherlands? How a bout moving to Denmark?!

    Okay, I know there’s a difference between the middle ground between to things and then the merge of the best from each…

    then how about coming to Norway? It´s rank 2!
    But it might not be NZ… Hmm…

    draakje wrote on Nov 19, ’08
    I completely agree, having one kid in the Netherlands. The many negative reactions I get (mainly of women), about having a kid and still working 32 hours. People try to convince me, I am a worthless mom. If I see how happy my daughter is at daycare, I am completely convinced otherwise 😉

    toyotomi wrote on Nov 21, ’08
    Both the second and third parties in parliament have women as leader in parliament: PvdA (Mariëtte Hamer) and SP (Agnes Kant).

    gilraensurion wrote on Nov 21, ’08, edited on Nov 22, ’08
    Mariette Hamer is the leader in parliament as the party leader is currently in government (Wouter Bos) and thus cannot lead the members of parliament. Ms Hamer will not lead the party in election, Bos will. Granted though the recently elected party president is a woman, she holds no governmental power though.
    As for Agnes Kant. Yes she has recently taken over from Jan Marijnesse (and to be honest I had forgotten about her). She was not the leader when the election took place.

    62 members of parliament are female out of 150. The governments holds
    0 women as prime minister or vice-prime minister out of 3 places.
    3(!) ministers out of 15 (an additional one was recently replaced, by a man)
    5 state secretaries (basically junior ministers/ ministers outside of cabinet) out of 11.
    So if there are woman they are in the lower regions. Of the top 5 departments (general, economics, finance, internal and foreign affairs) one went to a woman (internal affairs)

    Not a very balanced score for a country where education levels are equal. between genders.
    And after last election we had to cheer on that as it was more than ever. Not saying the Netherlands are not making progress, but really around 15-20 years behind on a lot of countries and yet we still dare to say that equal opportunity exists.

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