A few examples:
Within international organisations like the United Nations, Dutch diplomats are involved in ongoing efforts to promote women’s rights.And it doesn’t stop there. In many countries, girls have disappeared off the radar because of school closures and teenage pregnancies are on the rise. Girls are ending up on the streets, in the informal sector.Girls, not brides. Watch the video by Youth Ambassador Laura Bas and Pascalle Grotenhuis, Dutch Ambassador for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality on Facebook.
One of the organisations supported by the Netherlands is FIDA-Kenya, an organisation for women advocates, lawyers and law students in Kenya. It runs a free helpline and provides shelter to women fleeing violence, including female genital mutilation.
During the Orange the World campaign in 2021, for instance, ambassador Tanja Gonggrijp cycled around Colombo, handing out banners to local and international organisations, government bodies, companies and other embassies. At every stop more and more people joined Tanja, and the caravan of cyclists became longer and longer. Several national media outlets reported on the event, ensuring the important message was widely publicised.Pascalle says. ‘Investing in women and girls is also one of the most effective ways for a country to tackle poverty.’A world where violence against women and girls is a thing of the past. We’re not there yet, but wouldn’t it be wonderful. We ask Pascalle Grotenhuis, Dutch Ambassador for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, what the Netherlands is doing for women and girls around the world, and why.Dialogue is one way to change this and podcasts, which are wildly popular in the country, are a perfect way to get the conversation going.
The podcasts are available on Spotify in English and Vietnamese.
Pascalle is quick to point out that the situation of women and girls in the Netherlands is ‘by no means perfect’. There are still large differences in women’s and men’s pay, and women have fewer opportunities on the labour market.
‘Because of COVID, we’ve lost some of the progress we’d made,’ says Pascalle. ‘And that motivates me to do more.’
What does the Netherlands think?
Another example is the Young Women 4 Change Alliance, which is active in Egypt, Kenya, the Palestinian Territories and South Sudan. The women in this organisation are trying to change legislation that affects women in their countries.For the next 16 days, orange banners reading ‘Say NO to violence against women and girls’ in English, Sinhala and Tamil could be seen all over the city.The Dutch embassy in Sri Lanka runs visible, thought-provoking campaigns to call attention to the problem of violence against women.The Dutch embassy in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, trains local police officers to interact with sex workers in respectful ways. Violence against this vulnerable group has increased sharply during the COVID-19 pandemic. The course is part of a broader campaign entitled Hands Off 2, being implemented by the Dutch organisation Aidsfonds in various African countries. The Netherlands has the world’s biggest fund for women’s rights: the SDG5 Fund, worth €510 million. The Netherlands uses this fund to support women’s organisations, especially in the southern hemisphere.