(April 26, 2022)
Who will receive the 4th Rebius Pelletier Medal on June 17th? Jury chairwoman Sibylla Decker argues in her column to extend the presentation of this award. Because putting political models in the spotlight is important for young women. She was herself inspired by an American icon: Madeleine Albright, who died in March.
Madeleine Albright was an incredibly powerful figure and an impressive Secretary of State under President Clinton. She came to the United States as a refugee and never forgot that she got her freedom because she escaped from another regime. In her life she has always advocated for human rights. Unfortunately, rights are currently under pressure from various regimes.
Women’s rights are human rights too
Albright always said, “Women’s rights are also human rights.” This is the screw on the head. Democracy always means equality between people. Whatever your origin, gender or orientation. Keep figuring out where you come from. Don’t hide it, but show who you are, what you want to achieve, and that you stand up for women’s rights. This is an important Albright lesson for young women.
Another famous quote from her was: “For women who don’t help other women, a special place is reserved in Hell.” A private comment I totally agree with. Certainly, as a woman in a high position, you have to keep an eye on the qualities of women who are still in the lead-up to their careers. Isn’t it impossible not to help or support them? In my opinion, women should help each other more often.
Supporting other women is important, regardless of their political leanings or beliefs. It starts with taking a good look around you. Who are the women in your area and what can you do for each other? When I reached higher positions myself, for example as a director at the Department of Agriculture, I was always looking for women I could support. In addition, I was the co-founder and president of Talent to the Top, an organization that aims specifically to promote women to the top. In my new position as Head of North Sea Consulting, I am also seeking to provide a staff of talented young women who are given the opportunity to advance. It is very important for a woman not to lose weight, it depends on the content and process. Not at any cost, but based on the conviction that the person can fail and that you can then help him further.
Although we are on the right track, equality is still a long-term issue. Since the beginning of this year, a legal quota for women has been implemented in the business community and the public sector. I wasn’t with that at first. Efforts were also made for a long time to achieve this without legislation. But in practice, this powerful tool is still necessary to accelerate the advancement of women to higher positions. The Netherlands has to get rid of the backlog. In addition, hybrid teams in organizations lead to more balanced, efficient decision making and better collaboration. I am totally convinced of this and it has also been scientifically proven.
Fortunately, more women were elected in the recent municipal elections. This gives councils, states, and colleges the opportunity to have a more balanced composition. If more than one woman is represented in an official body – a cabinet, a regional executive or a board of directors – this special position for these women disappears. Then it radiates that women have an impact on the organization. The province of North Holland is well distributed with 3 deputies and 3 deputies. With this combination you get a better balance of views and it becomes natural for women to occupy these positions. This is the real acceptance. Then it was no longer about stereotyping men and women. Then the different personalities and values and how they complement each other are central.
The Rebius Pelletier Medal as a beautiful podium
Not only does Nord-Holland have a good distribution of males and females in the Regional Executive Council and Regional Council, but it is also the only province to be recognized with the Rebius Pelletier Medal. This is special. The medal will be awarded for the fourth time this year and I am convinced that many good candidates will be nominated again.
The last awards ceremony will be in 2023, but as far as I’m concerned, this medal will also continue into the following years. The elections present a wonderful stage for women who would otherwise not be in the spotlight. And our winners Devika Partiman, Manja van der Weit and Sylvana Simons are inspiring role models that women can emulate. So I hope the Regional Executive will once again think carefully about retaining this incentive for women in North Holland politics.
Anyone can register a candidate for the 2022 Rebius Pelletier Medal until 31 May via www.penning.noord-holland.nl. The jury will select a woman from among the nominees who deserve this award.
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