'Only 52% of Dutch women financially independent':

Rights for Change and the Association for Women and Law (Vereniging Vrouw en Recht) organised a successful meeting on the Economic consequences of marriage and divorce. This was hosted at the Women Inc. office – who also have a particular focus on Women and Financial empowerment.

The meeting was opened with a presentation of Saskia de Hoog from Atria, which explained the situation of Dutch women’s economic independence. She presented a research report Women and Financial Independence, from Pink Cloud to Financial Awareness (only available in Dutch) that looked into the actual situation and women’s attitudes towards their financial independence. In the Netherlands only 52% of women are considered to be economically independent. However the definition of economic independence already stirred on debate. According to the Dutch governmental definition a woman is financially independent when she earns 70% of the minimum wage. More importantly women’s attitude show they often perceive  a limited financial risk when they are (almost) fully or partially dependent on their partners. This becomes even more apparent with women who have children, they take a step back to ensure care for their children, but fail to see the financial risks they run, once their marriage and/or relationship would end/change, due to divorce, changing health situation of themselves or their partner, possible debt by the partner brought into a marriage, or possible death. This is not only in the long term for example for their pension arrangements, but also in the short term with divorce. Women in divorce often experience an ‘unfairness’ for the lack of appreciation for their time invested as carer (and the need to perceive this as work) in the relationship and have to take a severe financial setback once divorced as Dutch courts seldom take this fully into account.

The new CEDAW General Recommendations 29 of CEDAW, which were presented by Rights for Change expert Margreet de Boer, deal exactly with these risks women run (taking on the role as carer and defining this as work, but also for example the practical implications of polygamous relationships – in the Netherlands relevant for migrants, although officially not acknowledged under Dutch law ), but of course have limited effects on the actual attitudes of women. The participants in the meeting agreed that it will be necessary to review the General Recommendations in more detail from a legal perspective and how they should be taken up within Dutch policies and laws. Findings can be included directly in the review procedure for the Dutch government towards CEDAW planned for the spring of 2013.

If you are interested in being part of these discussions, please join our linkedin group, where we continue to work and discuss the need for legal protection of women to guarantee their financial independence and how this should be included in our CEDAW Shadow reporting. However, in a country where women have an abundance of choices and opportunities it should also be a priority to inform and create awareness on the need to address their perceptions of their financial risks and take action themselves to organise their finances from a long term and realistic perspective.

Please visit for your interest also: Vereniging Vrouw en RechtWomenInc, and Atria-kennisinstituut.

Please find a report on our meeting (only available in Dutch) here.

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