The March 16th municipal elections had some historical results regarding women’s presence in the newly formed city councils.
In the city of Groningen, it is likely that women will represent the majority of the city council for the first time in history (24 versus 21 men), reports OOGTV. It all comes down to whether seven female candidates who received preference votes will be able to sit on the city council, which will be officially confirmed on Monday the 28th.
The candidates in question are Janette Bosma (Party for the Animals), Sophie Middelhuis (GroenLinks), Mirjam Gietema (D66), Maria Martinez Doubiani (D66), Elisabeth Akkerman (VVD), Etkin Armut (CDA), and Evelien Bernabela (Party for the North).
In Friesland, women have also done better than usual in the municipal elections. As reported by the Leeuwarden Courant, for the first time in history the proportion of women in the Frisian municipal councils has reached 40 percent. In total, Frisian voters have chosen 248 men and 168 women. In the previous elections, women accounted for 35% of elected officials, for a total of 144.
While the official results of the Frisian elections will also be officially confirmed on Monday, some information already trickled in. Twenty women can already be sure of their spot based on receiving preference votes, and in almost all of these cases they are going to replace a man. In addition, two municipalities will have a female majority in their councils, Leeuwarden (22 women versus 17 men) and Schiermonnikoog (5 women versus 4 men).
While there is reason to celebrate such historical results, especially the record-breaking city councils in Groningen and Leeuwarden, there is still a lot of work to be done, warned the Aletta Jacobs Noord-Nederland Foundation and Atria – a knowledge institute for emancipation and women’s history – in an open letter to newly elected officials in the North.
Groningen and Leeuwarden still represent an exception, since in general only one-third of councilors in the North of the Netherlands are women. A study by Stem op een Vrouw published just before the March 16th elections showed that of the three northern provinces Friesland had the most women in municipal councils (35 percent), while Groningen had 33 percent and Drenthe 31 percent. The distribution of alderman roles was even more unequal: in 2019 in Friesland only 28 percent were women, 27 percent in Groningen and only 20 percent in Drenthe.
The Aletta Jacobs Foundation and Atria have thus extended a helping hand to the new city councils in all 40 northern municipalities, offering guidelines to make their future work more inclusive and calling for more gender-sensitive coalition agreements.