100 years of women's sufrage in The Netherlands

In 2017, the Netherlands celebrated 100 years of women’s suffrage. It was in 1917 that the constitutional amendment was made to give women the right to vote and stand for election. To mark this anniversary, Gender Concerns International took action to indicate how far The Netherlands still has to go to reach gender electoral equality.

During the Parliamentary Elections of March 2017, we thoroughly assessed the electoral participation of women through our Gender Elections Observation Mission (GEOM) initiative – the first of its kind to be conducted in Europe. The subsequent GEOM Report presented our conclusions but also our recommendations to the Electoral Commission, political parties and Government as a whole. These recommendations aimed at improving gender parity in the Netherlands and encouraging long-term, sustainable development towards a gender-sensitive electoral process and parity in participation. As a result, resolutions were presented by parliamentarians. Nevertheless, in July 2017, Gender Concerns went further in promoting its GEOM results and recommendations. To accelerate change in the Dutch electoral system, we filing a petition to the Parliamentary Commission on Home Affairs, based on these GEOM findings. The petition voiced the continuing existence of gender disparity in the country and that systematic exclusion of women from electoral processes is causing barriers to achieving such parity. Gender Concerns suggested that the Dutch Government, as a leader of change and inclusiveness, should consider new measures to break down these barriers and ensure women’s electoral participation moving into the future.

Now, we want to take this progression further. The next gender celebration in the Netherlands is to come in September 2019, and will mark 100 years of women’s general right to vote. Gender Concerns International hopes that it can encourage the Government of The Netherlands to make greater active developments towards gender parity by this time, to truly commemorate this significant anniversary of gender equality in the country. The Director of Gender Concerns, Ms Sabra Bano, is now part of the 100 Years of Women’s Voting Committee – established to jointly commemorate this anniversary, but also to set an agenda for future progression in women’s electoral and political participation in The Netherlands.