- To the The Netherlands -
People, especially in my home country of the Netherlands, ask me why I am a feminist and why we ‘still’ need International Women's Day. I would like to point out that International Women's Day is a World Equality Day. It is not a girls night out for mainly white westernized women, but a day for the whole wide world to get our facts straight, collect ideas and make plans for progress.
I believe it's ok if people feel progress is no longer needed or that one does not have to be an activist to create change. However, denying consciousness of deep-rooted, underlying issues and inequalities in politics, economics, education, gender discrimination, rape, sexual harassment, etc., is the same as closing one’s eyes and yelling in a different direction.
Ironically, and almost contradictive to the first thing I said, a large part of us still view women in other parts of the world as the ones who are oppressed; it's Asia, South America, Africa and the Middle East that still need this progress according to ‘us.’ Since I'm currenly working on a film in the Philippines, someone even asked me: is it hard to work with men in the Philippines? Spoken with the implication that the men there are used to oppressed women.
Is it hard to lead a team of men in the Philippines? Actually, it's not. In fact, I have never felt more equal in terms of gender as I have when working here for just these two months. After all, I have never had the opportunity to work in a country with a film industry composted of 60% women and at least two former female presidents.
When I saw this picture of the gender gap index in the Philippine newspaper today everything fell into place. The graphic doesn’t really surprise me. The gender gap index shows how well countries perform when there is an equal contribution from men and woman in leading functions of the country. Rwanda (Africa), Nicaragua (South-America) and the Philippines (Asia) are in the top 10 of countries best working to close the gender gap. Not only are the U.K., the U.S. and the Netherlands not in the top ten, the Netherlands resides at number eighteen. Yes that's right, below Turkey, South Africa and Burundi. Despite this standing we cling to the idea that we (the Netherlands) are such a modern, tolerant, multicultural, emancipated country and we don't need to learn from anyone. Lately I started to wonder, is it that we want to stick to that self-image so much that we have started to become resistant to change?
Now, I am neither a scientist nor an expert on any cultural habit, but I have eyes, I see facts. I see women around me in the Philippines being true go-getters. I am learning from them. Yes, International Women's Day is needed in the world, but maybe it's even more needed in our own tiny country than we think. A country led by 80% men.
I hope this newspaper article inspires you, as it did me. Let’s keep looking in that mirror before making conclusions. Let's stay open for learning today, because that’s how progress began in the first place.