29 August 2016, The Netherlands

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29 August 2016, The Netherlands

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Article 3 ICESCR

The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to ensure the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all economic, social and cultural rights set forth in the present Covenant.

Many rights discussed in this report raise additional issues with respect to article 3 of the Covenant, i.e. equal treatment of women and position of women in the enjoyment of rights. Where relevant this will be indicated.

  1. Gender Pay Gap

In 1993 the social partners in the Labour Foundation agreed upon the Checklist Equal Pay, which lists ‘suspect criteria’ for the start salary in a new job, such as reference to the previous earned salary and the counting of work-experience without assessing how this relates to the new job. Research of the National Human Rights Institute shows that these two suspect criteria are still frequently used. Calculated over a full working life the negative effects for women amount to considerable sums of money. The submitting parties therefore regret that the Dutch government refuses to implement the recommendation of the Social and Economic Council to (re)introduce the yearly Equal Pay Day.

Recommendation 14:

The submitting parties recommend the Committee to enquire whether the government is prepared to reintroduce the yearly Equal Pay Day, which is broadly supported by employers and unions, to extend opportunities to raise awareness about all kind of gender pay gaps, including the intersection with ethnicity.

  1. Girls and science/technology: stagnation in tertiary education and labour market (& 6 and 13 ICESCR)

The number of girls in secondary schools opting for the technology sector (VMBO) or natural profiles (general secondary education) increases due, amongst others, to the specific activities of the ‘Landelijk expertisebureau meisjes/vrouwen en beta/techniek’ (VHTO), the national expert organization on girls/women and science/technology.

In the school year 2014/15 58% of girls in secondary pre-university education (VWO) and 38% of girls in secondary education (HAVO) chose a technology oriented school trajectory. The increase in secondary vocational education and training (VMBO) is still low: only 6% of girls chose engineering compared to 46% of boys. Unfortunately this trend is not reflected in tertiary education: In Universities of Applied Sciences (HBO) only 0.9 out of 10 girls opt for technology-oriented education (0.6 in 2013). At the university level the influx of women in courses of sciences/technology remains low: only 2.3 out of 10 (2015).67 These numbers fall far below the target that the government has set itself, namely 4 out of 10 girls/women in technology/science-oriented education. These numbers are reflected in the labour market: 70 % of women with an degree in science/technology works in non-technology related jobs, compared to 35% of men with similar educational backgrounds. It is therefore worrisome that as of July 2016 the government has not included the activities of the VHTO in its budget when it comes to primary and secondary education.

Recommendation 15:

The submitting parties suggest that the Committee to ask the Dutch government how it seeks to obtain its goals of more girls and women in technology/natural sciences education.

  1. Women in Decision-Making in Academia and the Number of Female Professors

In December 2015, Dutch universities set new targets for reducing the disparities in the proportion of males to females in academia.68 The submitting parties applaud the acknowledgement of the disparities. However, much more effort in relation to promoting diversity is needed on the side of the government, considering that there are hardly any female professors from ethnic minorities. Notably, the usage of targets is not new; they have in place since the Lisbon Agreement of 2000, yet they are not very effective. The annual percentage of growth of women in academia remains 0.8%. Moreover, the Glass Ceiling Index (GCI) is persistent: since 2007 the GCI for the step from associate professor to full professor has remained unchanged at 1.5.69 Furthermore, the intersection of discrimination (sex/ethnicity/age etc.) also appears at the universities. For instance, female candidates may hold all the requisite qualifications, but they do not get appointed as professor because they are too old.70

Recommendation 16:

The submitting parties recommend the Committee to invite the Dutch government to establish clear targets for gender and diversity in academia.71

  1. Local Government’s Tender Procedures Disadvantage Women (& 2 and 7 ICESCR)

At the local level, calls for public procurement have propelled inequality of women: calls for tender of home care, youth care, transport of disabled and old people, school children, in the home care and specialized taxi-branches, greatly disadvantaged female workers, because a large share of the employees is female.

Particularly in these sectors, due to their fear to lose the tender, companies often submit a too tight budget which can only be met by worsening of the labour conditions, including lower wages, fewer hours, more on call contracts, as well as loss of contracts for homecare workers who subsequently lose their proper jobs and have to accept re-employment with diminished social rights under the Home Help Services Scheme. In addition, many companies go bankrupt, leading in loss of work for female workers as well. In case the workers succeed in finding another job in the sector they often have to accept temporary contracts and lower salary scales.72 A consistent scheme for promoting equality in public contracts is urgently needed to guarantee that the right to just and favourable working conditions is fulfilled without discrimination of any kind, including indirect discrimination.73

Recommendation 17:

The submitting parties recommend the Committee to ask the Dutch government how it will ensure that (local government’s) tender procedures disproportionally disadvantage women and promote gender equality.

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  • Gender Pay Gap

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