9 juni 2015

Progressive Alliance Conference on Decent Work and Gender Equality

On the 22nd and 23rd of May the Partij van de Arbeid had the honour to host the Progressive Alliance conference on Gender Equality and Decent Work in Rotterdam.  The Progressive Alliance is a worldwide social democratic network that, for the past two years, has focused on a theme that lies at the heart of all social democrats: decent work.

When the PvdA was asked to host a conference for the Progressive Alliance, it was clear we wanted to pay special attention to gender equality, because we believe that decent work should be available to all. It is an issue that is not confined by borders and it is therefore necessary that political parties, the private sector and NGOs come together to find workable solutions. A Gender Action Plan comprised of 14 action points was adopted by the Progressive Alliance to pave the way to decent work for all. It suffices to say that there was a lot to discuss on the conference.

Friday 22nd of May
Moderated by Kirsten Meijer, International Secretary of the PvdA, the Conference was opened by leader of the Dutch labour party Diederik Samsom [Speech and target=”_blank”>video of Samsom]. Samsom drew in his speech inspiration from Aletta Jacobs, a Dutch woman who was born in the 19th century and who wanted to become, above all, a doctor. Yet, she lived in a time when only boys were allowed to become so. Yet through perseverance and determination she became the first female medical student and doctor in the Netherlands. We can learn a lot from Aletta’s struggle, so Samsom remarked, for the road to equality may seem endless, it is vital not to give up. Equality, equal treatment regardless your background, your gender, your sexual orientation or religious beliefs are at the heart of the social democratic movement. We strongly believe in equal rights, in participation, emancipation and equal opportunities. Our fight to improve the position of the powerless is the core task of our parties. Through perseverance, dedication and commitment, we can and will succeed in creating an equal and secure environment for women all around the world.

Speeches were also provided by Zita Gurmai (President PES Women), Jan Royall (Vice-President PES), and Dimple Yadav (Member of Indian Parliament).

After the opening speeches, it was time to actively engage with the conference members. Two panel discussions were scheduled the first day: Closing the Gender Pay Gap, and Gender and Campaigning.

More than only discussing the issues surrounding Decent Work and Gender Equality, we also wanted to illustrate projects within Rotterdam that strive to empower women. As such, fieldtrips were organized throughout the city. We visited Amina Hussen, a Somali woman integrated in the Netherlands, who now dedicates herself to support women who are new in the city of Rotterdam. Or take soccer club Excelsior, which demonstrates how corporate responsibility can make a real difference within society. By organizing workshops and offering training they give the young girls the courage they need to stand up for themselves. We also visited the Young Female Professionals, led by the young and ambitious sisters Bisesar who envision a future with more women at the top. In collaboration with the VIP-store they provide a supportive environment for young and talented women. Lastly, Humanitas was visited, led by PvdA Vice-Chair Marja Bijl. An important project of Humanitas is the support of women who fell victim to human trafficking.

Saturday 23rd of May
The next day the Progressive Alliance continued their conference, starting with the Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Lilianne Ploumen [Speech and video of Ploumen].

The fashion show, made possible through the dedicated work of Awearness Fashion by Jeannette Ooink and Wilma Mulder, demonstrated how fashion can be made in a sustainable, honest way, with the rights and equality of women in mind. Together with a number of the fashion designers the story behind clothes was told.

Hereafter, two panel discussions took place: one on the The Chain of Clothes and one on Workshop Achieving Work-Life Balance.

Being held in the city of Rotterdam, the conference was also visited by the Mayor of the city, and social democrat, Ahmed Aboutaleb. He opened the last part of the conference with a speech about the city of Rotterdam [Video of Aboutaleb].

The conference was also meant to trigger people into action. How are we going to implement all that was talked about at the conference in the upcoming months? The Final Panel Discussion focused therefore on practical solutions. It was our intention to provide all conference members with workable ideas to be taken home. We therefore asked them: what do you intend to do with the Gender Action Plan? What are the most important aspects when you return to your home country? The goal was to concretize the Action Plan in order to provide participants with inspiration and a clear roadmap to Gender Equality and Decent Work.

The panel consisted of Caroline Gennez (Socialist Party, Belgium), Zohra Lhioui (Socialist Union of Popular Forces, Marocco), and Conny Reuter (Secretary General SOLIDAR). Before their contributions, Kirsten van den Hul presented the Action Plan. Together with Hedy d’Ancona and Jamila Aanzi, she was ons of the experts that wrote the draft Action Plan on behalf of the PvdA.

Finally, Jet Bussemaker, Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science, inspired us with her closing remarks [Speech and video of Bussemaker].

With the signing of the Gender Action Plan, all participants made their intentions towards gender equality clear: we will commit ourselves to decent work and gender equality for all. With perseverance, dedication and determination, we will succeed.

For all pictures of the Conference, please click here.