Netherlands Laws and Policies

In the Netherlands there is no differentiation between equal opportunities and anti-discrimination law. Rather, both are included under the Equal Treatment Act, enforced by an Equal Treatment Commission (merged in 2012 into the newly established Netherlands Institute for Human Rights). Gender is thus treated as a relevant category of discrimination.

Gender mainstreaming is subject to many policy documents. In 2001 the government adopted a position paper on gender mainstreaming. Five preconditions for gender mainstreaming were defined:

  1. Commitment on the part of senior politicians and officials;
  2. An explicit emancipation policy with clear objectives;
  3. Set responsibilities;
  4. Availability of gender expertise;
  5. Available resources (budget and staff) and instruments.

The position paper also addressed what departmental and interdepartmental structures were required. With respect to departmental structure, ministries were requested to prepare a report on gender mainstreaming. This report was to indicate how the five preconditions are to be met and organised, point to concrete gender-mainstreaming targets, projected results and an improvement agenda, and contain a financial section specifying the required budget and staff allocation. These departmental reports were to be peer-reviewed by the ICE. With respect to how interdepartmental support would be structured, three dimensions were presented. First, the ICE was to be strengthened by a steering group, for which the annual budget and accountability cycles were considered important elements. The ICE was also expected to provide advice on policies for which a gender impact assessment was relevant, and would evaluate the progress on departmental gender-mainstreaming strategies. Secondly, a review committee was to be installed to recommend how gender mainstreaming could be strengthened. Thirdly, the ministry responsible for the national emancipation policy would have a supportive and coordinating role vis-à-vis gender mainstreaming in other departments. Gender mainstreaming would be supported by the development of additional instruments, including gender-sensitive budgeting, an interdepartmental knowledge network, databases and a module on gender expertise for regular training and courses.