Current | In the media


Eva Lia Colombo interview with CIVICUS

Our Projectleader Climate & Gender, Eva Lia Colombo, talked to CIVICUS about the state of the feminist movement in the Netherlands amid the rise of the far right, and the cancellation of the Feminist March on March 10th. 

What recent achievements has the Dutch feminist movement made? What have been its biggest challenges? 

There are many achievements at the national level, such as the removal of the mandatory five-day period before abortions. This was a requirement to wait five days to reflect on the decision, but that’s no longer compulsory. Additionally, the #MeToo movement in the Netherlands raised awareness about gender equality and inappropriate sexual behaviour. This led to the appointment of a female Commissioner in April 2022 to research and raise awareness about these issues in society.

We are more focused on international policies. One significant achievement I would like to highlight is the implementation of a feminist foreign policy by the Dutch government in 2022. This policy aims to strengthen the rights and positions of women and girls in various international policies, including asylum, climate, defence, development cooperation, migration, peace, security and trade.

The policy is based on four principles: rights, representation, resources and a reality check. It focuses on protecting women’s rights, involving women in policymaking, providing funds for women’s organisations and analysing policies for potential negative impacts on women and girls. It is not just about women but includes other excluded groups and has an intersectional approach. We've published a magazine with evidence-based stories to support this policy.

Dutch civil society has advocated for this policy and WO=MEN has been instrumental in this, by consolidating and coordinating advocacy messages and facilitating consultation sessions among partners and members for the Minister for Foreign Affairs and members of parliament. The government also involved civil society in developing tools to implement the policy.

As a project lead on climate and gender, I also observed how the Netherlands actively promoted inclusiveness and gender equality during the COP28 climate summit in the United Arab Emirates last year and gave visible attention to the link between gender and climate in public social media statements.

Unfortunately, this has not yet led to the integration of gender in many negotiating topics, partly due to the huge pushback on gender from conservative countries. A lot of work needs to be done yet, but these are the small achievements we should celebrate.

In the Netherlands, despite the country being seen as a pioneer in gender equality, anti-rights movements are gaining ground, posing challenges to progress, particularly regarding political participation and issues like abortion. In light of these challenges, it is crucial to continue working toward permanent changes and foster a better understanding of feminism within broader society for systemic change and inclusivity. There is a need for greater gender equality in decision-making  positions to structurally address social norms that perpetuate inequalities.

Read the full interview here. 

The Database contains information about gender equality, respect for women's rights and all the themes WO=MEN strives for worldwide.