Hamas promises peace

RamallahThis week a group of journalists and opinion leaders had a conversation with spokesmen of Fatah and Hamas on the Westbank. Fatah and Hamas have reconciliated and the two men presented themselves as a political unity in Ramallah. The conversation led to one unclear outcome but also to some clear conclusions that I am happy to share with you.
The unclear outcome was the answer to the question as to how Hamas felt about the deal between Israel and Turkey on the Mavi Marmara ship. Although this deal involves action points to be taken by Hamas, the Hamas spokesman was clear: this is between Israel and Turkey, Hamas has got nothing to do with it and has no opinion about it. The news that  there was some disappointment about the deal in Turkey because the hopes were the Gaza bloccade would be alleviated, made no big impression: Hamas is not involved here and has no comments on the deal.

Then the questions that WERE actually answered…
1. Is Hamas ready to accept a 2-state solution in the Israeli-Palestine conflict? The answer was a loud and clear: yes! This is something that I never heard before and that opens new windows for the future, as the 2-state solution means that the parties involved recognize each other so Hamas is ready to recognize Israel.
2. How does Hamas see the position of women? Hamas wants a democratic state with full rights for women in all positions. Women have the same rights as men and Hamas will work within the framework of international laws set in this respect. The way the society was described here sounded like paradise, certainly more than the Netherlands where we do struggle with some men-women issues in daily life!
3. How about a free press? Hamas admits there is no free press now but they are motivated to have a free press. However it is difficult in the actual circumstances because of (their perception of) the Israeli oppression. The answer is, give Hamas a free Palestinian state and free press will be realized in that new state.
So after this conversation the conclusion can only be: Hamas promises peace. Hamas just made peace with Fatah, and they will make peace with Israel and with international rights like the rights for women and the rights for free journalism.
You can imagine that the group that witnessed this conversation, was excited and ready to give congratulations.

 

A tribute to Charleston victims

tribute charleston victims

Tomb unknown slave New Orleans Made out of chains

Yesterday we were shocked by the death of 9 black people who were shot for the very reason of being black. This is the kind of tragedy that cannot be put into words – it is the downside of humanity, or should I say inhumanity. We cannot believe that it happened, but it did in Charleston, USA today. As a tribute to the victims, I re-publish a part of my diary about the international diversity conference in New Orleans 2006 (yes, shortly after hurricane Katrina). May the strength of people who were slaves, who protested against slavery and who protest against the remaining infections of that period, be blessed and reinforced. May their tears be dried by soulmates and friends.

tribute charleston victims

Tomb unknown slave New Orleans

Building by remembering (New Orleans, June 11, 2006)
By coincidence we walked into a church, just because the door was opened. It appeared to be the only door where in the time of slavery, banks were bought by free black people for slaves to sit upon. Outside of the church we find, unique in the USA, the grave of the unknown slave (the photo on top). A place that makes you silent. A sign of resistance, a sign of hope. It confirms the thesis of the Museum of Art, that the future is built by commemorating the past, not by forgetting it. The power to rebuilt a town like New Orleans can be found in that concept. Because it is sure that people will rebuild the town. And the question of the future is for whom they will rebuild the city (black or white).

I remember that we asked who was in the grave of the unknown slave. The answer was: no one in particular. So many slaves died here, they were buried all around so all of the ground in New Orleans is sacred, the church people said. This made me as silent as the Charleston murders did yesterday.

Naziha’s spring – an outstanding IDFA documentary

naziha's spring  It was a coincidence that I went to an IDFA documentary, I never have / take time for things like that but in this case the maker of the documentary was the daughter of a friend with whom I participate in a Turkish litterature club – yes, all Turkish spoken so you understand I do not speak a lot, however I do read all the books (in Turkish) while not every participant does 🙂
I have to say that Gülsah Dogan presented an outstanding documentary that should be obliged learning material for any organisation involved in the problems of Amsterdam-West families. She has succeeded to make an inside picture about one of the (former) most problematic Dutch-Moroccan families Amsterdam-West has known. And anyone in the public can recognize and feel the characters, the conflicts, the existentialist problems that occur in this story. It is very moving – there were many tears – and the complexity of extreme family situations is revealed. This is a documentary that deserves a price and I hope it will win.
See http://www.idfa.nl/industry/tags/project.aspx?id=5273991f-70a3-431d-836f-264b6b41bce6, for more info and also times to visit next wednesday, thursday and saturday 26/27/29 November. Don’t miss this one! For me, it will still be on my mind for many days; it is really, really impressive!

Puteaux: a French world in pink and blue

puteaux  Puteaux: anger has risen in Puteaux, a suburb of Paris. In this city, the mayor provides school materials for the kids – in itself a most interesting fact. And he chose to give pink schoolbags to the girls, filled with jewelry stuff, and blue schoolbags to the boys with a constructable robot for the boys, thus inclenching a heavy debate:
http://www.lexpress.fr/education/puteaux-cartable-rose-aux-filles-bleu-aux-garcons-l-opposition-voit-rouge_1572098.htmlThe year before, the bags were black and it seems the mayor wasn’t aware and was completely surprised by the national and even international comments he got. It is very funny to see how some people still live somewhere ‘outside’ of the developing world and great to see that reactions are allover the place and bring him back to the real world; although there is quite some politics in there, too.

Now that we speak of Puteaux, a little puzzle for all of you who like the French language: how do you call a person living in Puteaux? Un(e) Putéolien(ne)…

 

Gay Pride Canal Parade 2014

Gay Pride Canal Parade 2014: in Amsterdam we have the Canal Parade as a unique event that can hardly be copied because only Venice would have canals like Amsterdam has them. It was, again, a very joyful event; it is so nice to be hundreds of thousands citizens celebrating together that we are a free country where we can love whoever we want. And the creative way it is expressed makes the party even better, see for example:
gay pride canal parade 2014  gay pride canal parade 2014  gay pride canal parade 2014gay pride canal parade 2014
And the Mensa boat ‘gayniaal’, alas not recognisable as such but beautiful colours:
gay pride canal parade 2014
A specific problem for the boats is that there are lots of low bridges to pass. Those who want to make ‘volume’ have to think of a way to bring it all down to pass the bridge and come up again after it. See how this works:
gay pride canal parade 2014  gay pride canal parade 2014
Also for the Army Boat, notice how all uniforms bow for the bridge – and notice also the American militaries on the boat who brought their own flag, a political statement!
  gay pride canal parade 2014gay pride canal parade 2014
Another political statement that I like: gay pride canal parade 2014
And finally a great message:
gay pride canal parade 2014
See you next year for the next Canal Parade!

Curacao: mixed feelings but rather depressed…

curacao-vlaggen halfstok  All flags were half-mast in Curacao this week. All flags means the flag of Curacao and in exceptional cases also the flag of the Kingdom of the Netherlands that Curacao still belongs to; but just in exceptional cases, because Helmin Wiels who was murdered last week was in support of complete independency – or maybe (sometimes one thinks just too deep and reality is more simple) because no flag of the Netherlands is available in this island of scarcity.
‘He was an important minister’, someone in a bar explains me while we are watching the television to see the speeches for his funeral. I do not dare to say that he was not a minister, he was a parlementarian by principal but my feeling is that this is not the moment to tell ‘better’ to anyone, anyhow. It is maybe a Dutch thing, this desire to be ‘precise’… What is very clear is that people express that they mourn about an important man, a man who cared about their island and who was willing to bring changes.
It also strikes me how happy people are that Dutch government officials are present at the funeral. They point their fingers to them and show me: that is a Dutch official and that person too, they have come to Curacao to pay respect to Herman Wiels. It matters to them that the ‘former colonisator’ is present, regardless the differences of opinion between the Netherlands and Curacao.
There are also people here who are ready to explain you why Helmin Wiels was not the answer to the problems at Curacao. However, the common ground is that nobody denies that Curacao has some real problems, and that it is the poor, mainly black, who pay the price for that.
What surprises me most is the awful, very polluting refinery that is in the core of this island. One doesn’t expect to see this in the Caribbean that are known for their natural beauty. The plant is large and the smell is very bad, also from a far distance and it effects one’s breath. Again it is the poor who live on the side where the wind takes the pollution, and the rich who live on the side where breathing is still possible – makes me sad…
Is this a happy island? No it is not. Everybody is talking about the safety problems here, even more than about the economic problems. I spoke to several people who disliked Helmin Wiels, even hated him; however, now that he is dead, they seemed to have lost hope. At least he was calling for change, and will there be anybody else to fulfill this role?
‘Hier is dat ding gebeurd’, people say in the bus when we pass the beach where Helmin Wiels was shot. My first thought was, what is ‘dat ding’ but I saw the picture and the objects placed at the beach and understood ‘dat ding’. It is too awful for people to be named in exact words. Mixed feeling are felt on this island but all together it is rather depressed…

 

10 children and a Phd!

8 March women's breakfast   Talent to the Top, a Dutch organisation for a better gender balance at the top levels of organisations (see www.talentnaardetop.nl), invited many top women to a breakfast meeting at 8 March, Women’s Day 2013. So I think we were more than 100 women in The Grant hotel in Amsterdam center, in a beautifull hall that was both large and cosy for our meeting.
Particularly impressive was the interview with Ms Sri Mulyani Indrawati, the director of the World Bank. She is a real example in her inspiration to create a better world. I liked the moment when the chair of the meeting asked her what she saw as the best investment in her career and she asked: “Do you mean for myself or for society?”. “For yourself, of course”, the chair asked but I think Ms Sri Mulyani Indrawati is in a top position of the World Bank because she has a broader, deeper approach. We can all learn from her! As her own role model, she mentioned her mother who had 10 children and still finished her Phd…
Thanks Talent to the Top for organizing this. There is a lot of work to be done, in all countries. The ambassador of Indonesia was present and she said that poverty and gender are the most difficult issues to tackle for countries worldwide. And she noticed that they are not one-to-one related: the Netherlands are much richer than Indonesia, but they are still struggling with gender problems. Reducing poverty will not automatically mean equal opportunities or equal rights for men and women. Work to do! When the 8 March breakfast was over, I felt full of motivation to go for it 🙂

Trade mission to Turkey (3): women entrepreneurship

  The trade mission to Turkey was brought to my attention by the foundation Talent naar de Top, a great Dutch organisation that brings female top talent to the attention of politics and organisations in the Netherlands, persuading them to set concrete targets to improve the number of women in top positions in the Netherlands. I really thank them for inviting me as it was a very good idea for me to join the mission to Turkey.
In Ankara we met with Angikad, a very interesting Turkish organisation of women entrepreneurs (see also http://www.angikad.org.tr). Turkey has quite some succesful women at top positions, for example 12% of the big companies have a female CEO. This is a figure that we can only dream of in the Netherlands, having maybe 1% female CEO in our top 100 companies. Also Turkey has much more female professors. However, they have only 1 out of 25 ministers who is a woman, but that is politics and we will leave that out of our business discussions. It was interesting to meet the business women of Angikad. What is remarkable for me is that women are more often found in technical professions than in the Netherlands. For example the chair of Angikad is a chemical engineer and vice-president of this company.
Nevertheless, Turkish women face their own challenges. They have more top women than we have in the Netherlands, but less women working at all and the total amount of women working as entrepreneur is also less than average. Angikad is actively taking up the challenge for development, they are in many projects both nationally and on European level.
We were received very well in the Big Chef’s restaurant (a succesful chain of restaurants owned by one of the Angikad members), I can advice everybody to have lunch or dinner in a Big Chef’s restaurant, it was delicious!
Apart from general presentations, we also took time to talk individually on business opportunities; this was both very nice and inspiring, and I am confident the conversations we had will have a good follow up. Turkish business women proved to be energetic, concrete and ready to go on ideas: such a nice experience! I hope Angikad will grow, as well as the number of Turkish entrepreneur women and of course their business!

Kurtulus son durak – Turkish film festival

Kurtulus Son Durak Poster  What a nice movie is Kurtulus son durak! Women living in neighbouring apartments in Kurtulus – Istanbul start to talk about their lives and many unexpected scenes are the result of it. Is this a feminist movie? Turkish newspapers describe it as a commercial movie about empowerment of women. But the movie was made by two men, not by women. Baris Pirhasan wrote it and his son Yusuf directed it. Baris is present at the Turkish film festival in Amsterdam and explains how the movie was created. He is a very interesting man and it is worth to ask him questions.
The movie is very funny but not without a serious tune. Also it has layers and quite some depth; what I liked a lot is the alcoholic guy who is living his own life amidst all the troubles and the adventures of the women. He even helps them at some point, but when the situation becomes very difficult with the police surrounding the appartments and all, he is watching the events happening in the apartments below him at his television. He only comes down to his neighbours in trouble when the police cuts off the electricity as a first step to enter the apartments with force. ‘The television stopped’, he explains while all the women watch his arrival in surprise, and that is just one out of many funny moments.
Baris Pirhasan explained he is using cynicism or black humour as a way to make people laugh and we did; it was a great night with a great movie that is unusual enough not to be just forgotten after the laughter. To be seen in Tuschinsky Amsterdam on Saturday 22-9, 13h and Sunday 23-9, 20.45h. Enjoy!

Dutch Professor Mönks receives international Mensa Award

  The Mensa Foundation (www.mensafoundation.org) has given the Mensa Foundation Life Time Achievement Award and a US$ 1000 cheque to Dutch professor Frans Jozef Mönks. It was handed out by the international Mensa chair Willem Bouwens at the ECHA conference in Münster, Germany last Thursday. Professor Mönks was himself one of the founders of ECHA (see also http://www.echa2012.info), now the biggest and best conference in Europe about gifted children with over 1000 visitors.
Professor Mönks wrote his first article on highgiftedness in 1963, a time when highly giftedness was far from getting any attention. He pioneered in this area, and he has an impressive track record.  He was also the founder of the excellent Centre for Research on Giftedness at the Radboud University in Nijmegen (the Netherlands), and at the age of 80 he is still working at the Radboud University on ‘psychology and pedagogy of the gifted child’.  Also he continues publishing on the subject.
Mensa the Netherlands (www.mensa.nl) is very proud of him and the Life Time Achievement Award that recognizes the immense benefits of his work for gifted children!
We are working to start our own Mensa Foundation in The Netherlands, in cooperation with MERF that has its roots in American Mensa. The launch is planned in 2013 when Mensa the Netherlands celebrates its 50 year existence. Further news about that will follow….
For now, I like to congratulate professor Mönks and thank him for his ‘life time’ work!

Neelie Kroes saves us from Mercer’s way of analyzing women’s fate

  Applause for Neelie Kroes, the Dutch European Commissioner who can translate women’s affairs in real issues instead of traditional conventions. Two days ago, Mercer published another of its research results: women in top positions and at middle management level earn less than men: in the Netherlands 14% less. That is a lot for the same work!
In a blog a few weeks ago, I already criticized Mercer for its way of analyzing research results: http://grethevangeffen.wordpress.com/2012/02/21/few-dutch-women-in-top-positions-we-need-a-dutch-spring/ To explain the fact that there are few Dutch women in top positions, Mercer found excuses like these and I quote my former blog: ”The Netherlands is a progressive nation but, like the UK, has very high levels of women working part-time”. However the UK still has a score of 28% of women in top positions, much higher than The Netherlands. Half of the high educated women in the Netherlands do not have children and do not work part time… so that can’t explain the figures.
Now how does Mercer analyze the new research results of women earning 14% less that men? Merel Verwoest, Head of Reward Consulting Benelux at Mercer explains that although discrimination could be the case, it is also because women quitted work for a few years to care for their children and that they work parttime more often than men do. Oh boy… here we are again… Mercer is fixated on women having children and working parttime….
A better reason Merel also gives is the fact that women in the Netherlands are more often into marketing or HR, functions that pay less than direct operational functions. Nice that they add this, but apart from this it it tiring to see Mercer repeat old-fashioned arguments again and again.
Neelie Kroes, commissioner in the European Union, was on Dutch television today and she was asked for her opinion about this subject. She came up with an explanation that showed much more insight in the matter: ‘women are less able to negotiate about salaries’, she said. Simple and true, applause for Neelie Kroes to be direct and concrete like always! The word ‘able’ in the negotiation is well chosen because it is two-sided. Any man with a parttime job and children will still obtain the maximum salary, but women don’t. Money is not about children or parttime work, that is a political correct excuse used by people who ‘do not want to accuse anybody’; like Mercer.
Neelie Kroes is not accusing anybody, but she helps us further by just telling the truth and encouraging society to learn something. If Neelie Kroes was not yet European Commissioner, Mercer should ask her to be their new top manager; they’d definitely learn and flourish that way.

Few Dutch women in top positions; we need a Dutch Spring!

  Only few women have top positions in the Netherlands, Mercer reveals today based on data on 264,000 senior management and executives in 5,321 companies across 41 European countries.
Eastern countries like Lithuania, Bulgaria, Russia, Kazakhstan and Estonia lead the list with percentages like 44 – 37% women in top positions; somewhere down the list, still better than Saudi Arabia (0%), Qatar (7%), Egypt (16%) and United Arab Emirates (17%) we find The Netherlands: 19% ! Wow.
Read this for yourselves at: http://www.mercer.com/press-releases/Analysis-of-gender-representation-in-executive-roles.
I quote the Mercer site where Sophie Black, Principal in Mercer’s Executive Remuneration team says: “For a gender comprising over half the global population, women’s representation in senior corporate roles is woeful. The cause is complicated. It’s cultural, social, in some cases it is intentional discrimination but it can also be unconscious – the desire to recruit people like you. This unconscious bias is hard to eradicate. The end result of all these issues is a creation of a ‘pyramid of invisibility’ for women in corporate life.”
However, when it comes to an explanation about the Netherlands, she finds excuses like these: “The Netherlands is a progressive nation but, like the UK, has very high levels of women working part-time”. However the UK still has a score of 28%, much higher than The Netherlands. Like child care, parttime work is often used as an excuse for the lack of Dutch women in top positions. But half of the high educated women in the Netherlands do not have children and do not work part time… so that can’t explain the figures.
Countries like Turkey and Morocco where women are supposed to have a more traditional role (at least in the eyes of many Dutch), beat the Netherlands (19%) with scores like 26% resp. 23%. With a score in between the score of the group of Middle Eastern countries, I think there is only one way to go for the Dutch. They had their Arab Spring last year, now it is our turn: we need a Dutch Spring!