Of the towns and cities in the province of Brabant, 25 have never had a woman at the helm.
Eindhoven is included in these ranks. Two villages, Woensdrecht en Mill and Sint Hubert, have never even had female councillors. “It’s a disgrace,” says Joke van der Beek. She’s been Den Bosch – the provincial capital’s – only female mayor, albeit it an interim one.
Van der Beek was temporary mayor of the provincial capital in 1996, between January and September. “I held that position for a short time. Now, almost 25 years later, they still haven’t elected a woman. I find that disgraceful.”
The Dutch magazine, Binnenlands Bestuur, researched which places in the Netherlands have never had a woman leading the council. This is the case in 120 of the 350 municipalities in the country. Breda and Tilburg are other cities in Brabant that have always had male mayors.
According to Van der Beek, society needs to change to even out the situation. “Women must stand up for themselves more. And, they must also be allowed to do so in politics.”
Henk Bouwmans says the fault lies with councillors and political parties. Bouwmans is the Director of the Dutch Councillors Association. “These traditionally male-dominated parties have to nominate candidates. So, they tend to choose a man to lead them.”
Few women in Brabant councils
Bouwmans says, “It’s remarkable that in Brabant, where there are many multi-party councils, there are so few women in these positions.” He says that’s because these parties are often local-centric. “In national parties, like the PvdA, the higher-ups often insist that women be appointed to prominent positions.”
“A few villages have only ever had a woman on their council once. That’s unbelievable. Surely, in this day and age, there are more suitable female candidates.” Henk concludes.
Of the municipalities within a 25km radius of Eindhoven, there are several that haven’t ever appointed female mayors, either. They are Gemert-Bakel, Laarbeek, Valkenswaard, Waalre, and Nuenen, Gerwen en Nederwetten.
But, it’s not all bad news. There are 17 (soon to be 18) settlements in North Brabant who currently have female mayors. Within that 25km radius, these are Bergeijk, Deurne (soon), Helmond, Oirschot, and Someren.
Translator: Melinda Walravenh