Netherlands to help women in the Middle East

With its Women on the Frontline fund, the Netherlands will seek to help women in the Middle East and North Africa organise themselves better. This was announced today by the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Lilianne Ploumen, ahead of International Women’s Day on Friday.

‘Investing in women will boost security, not only in the Netherlands but also worldwide,’ said the Minister. ‘Together with development organisation Hivos and PwC, over the next three years we’ll be investing €5.8 million so that women can have a say and make their mark in politics, government and society.’

The most well-known example of the role women play in the aftermath of conflict, including civil war, is that of Leymah Gwobee, who with her women’s movement got peace talks under way in Liberia. In Sudan and South Sudan, too, women sat at the negotiating table during the peace process. ‘We must ensure this happens as soon as possible after a conflict or war,’ said Ms Ploumen.

The new fund will help promote such action in countries like Syria, Bahrain, Yemen, Iraq, Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. The often fledgling women’s organisations that led the way in the demonstrations can use the money to gain training in lobbying and lawmaking. PwC is involved in teaching the often young women about organisation and financial management, making it easier for them to seek help from other donors, with the fund serving as an enabler.

Investing in women is one of the key themes of International Women’s Day. In the morning, Ms Ploumen will address the subject at a special breakfast organised by Talent to the Top. Also speaking at the event will be the Chairman of the Federation of Netherlands Industry and Employers, Bernard Wientjes, and the World Bank’s Sri Mulyani Indrawati. In the afternoon, Ms Ploumen will visit the Mama Cash women’s fund, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. In the evening, she will join Elisabeth van der Steenhoven of the WO=MEN Dutch Gender Platform and Julia Sebutinde, judge at the International Court of Justice, for a debate on investing in women for peace at a gathering organised by the Municipality of The Hague.