Feminism in the Netherlands – an intergenerational dialogue

On 17.6.2021 Alison Brown forwarded a Site Contact Form to Lyda Verstegen and me with an interview request from Katalin Miklós-Kokor from Transylvania (Romania). She studies International Relationships and European Studies at the Sapientia EMTE University.

As part of an internship program, she has to interview one chosen person or group from the country  covered in her thesis. Last year she chose the Netherlands and this year she wanted to present a topic that is, unfortunately, not very popular in her country: feminism.

Katalin: “As I searched through the infinite Google pages, I found your [IAW] website and immediately thought that this is the right choice. I was fascinated by the articles that I read on your website and I am really curious about what it is like to work at a place that is based on respect and acceptance.”

We – Lyda and I – decided to follow up on her request and also asked Erica van Engel to join in order to represent three generations (80+, 60+ and 50+) and three cities in the Netherlands: The Hague, Amsterdam and Rotterdam. The interview took place on 23.06 via Google Meet as a platform:  Katalin asked us various questions to talk about together. I will focus on two issues:

  1. Personal presentation and connection to IAW
  2. How is the situation in the Netherlands

Ad 1. Lyda Verstegen, honorary president of IAW, is a lawyer and was working as an assistant to the clerk in the Netherlands parliament in the fifties. She had to leave her job after having a baby. In the nineties she became very active in the Dutch affiliate of IAW – Vrouwenbelangen – and has worked many years in this century to improve the constitution and by-laws of IAW.

Arina Angerman is a historian and has been working as a programme manager to improve the participation of women in political decision-making in the nineties. She has helped IAW to remain visible on Twitter since October 2014 when she became a Board Member of European Women’s Lobby

Erica van Engel is an entrepreneur, founder of Belief in Business & Styles With A Story.  Erica was born in Surinam, a former colony of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in South America. Erica represents IAW in UNIDO, headquartered in Vienna. Erica was raised by a single mother and is now one herself. Her mother is a strong and inspiring role model, as is Erica to her daughter.

Ad 2. Lyda Verstegen remembers the period in the fifties very well when women had to leave their job when they got married.

Arina Angerman became a conscious feminist in 1979 when she was a member of the herstory group and discussed the possibility of having an abortion.

Erica van Engel points out the BIG issue that 3 out of 4 Dutch women are working part time and 1 out of 2 women are not economically independent. The Netherlands are only #31 in Gender Gap Index.

The interview with Katalin was a nice experience.

We wish to share with the younger generation: remain economically independent, remain hopeful, and look for supporting feminist men!


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