By Lamba Tamana
The last few decades, women have come a long way. From the first girls to be allowed to enrol in schools, to the first female presidents. Most of us have been enjoying our fair share of freedom without realising how lucky we are. However, life has not always been like this. Coming March, we will be celebrating the 100-year anniversary of female voting rights in Zeeland. It really does not seem like a long time ago since these changes have been implemented, which is odd when you think about it. Even though these are great victories that have enabled us to get where we are today, we are not quite there yet. Women all over the world still experience gender inequality on a day to day basis. Examples that come to mind are the more extreme ones such as female genital mutilation and child marriages, which happen in countries far from ours, but an example that hits closer to home for most of us is inequality when it comes to career opportunities.
While studying at UCR, I’ve been submerged in a society with many ambitious, strong and intelligent women who dare to say what they think. We have the privilege to learn, grow and are continuously stimulated to grab the opportunities that come onto our path. However, disappointments arise when you realise that, regardless of your achievements and ambition, you are not as valued as your male counterpart. Anno 2019, this seems hard to believe, however, statistics seem to confirm it all. For instance, the issue of equal pay is a hot and recurrent topic which is continuously fuelled by statistics from several bureaus and institutes. The US Bureau of Statistics has confirmed with their data that women earn only 80% of what men earn, however, other sources bring forth numbers that are way more dramatic, such as 50% or even less.
These kinds of statistics make it seem to me like us women are always one step behind, just because we’re… women. A demotivating idea. However, it is not always like this. There are many women who have surpassed men in their occupations and do not fit within the described statistics at all. But who are these women, and how did they do this?! They seem to be hidden behind their successes and we hardly ever hear their side of the story, which is a pity.
Luckily, this is where Feminer steps in. Feminer is an initiative by 4 ambitious students from Utrecht, who want to contribute to a future with equal chances and career opportunities for both men and women. They believe that young women who are just about to start their career should not be discouraged by the previously mentioned existing inequalities but should get inspired to do even better and overcome them. Feminer wants to inspire and motivate girls like us, who will be starting our lives beyond academics soon, by bringing us into contact with women from all different kinds of disciplines who each have their own journeys and success stories. By connecting young females with these inspiring women, they hope to motivate all girls to pursue their ambitions and see for themselves that anything is possible. After all, we, as students, have our whole future ahead of us and are able to make a difference.
On March 14th, Feminer will be hosting their second ‘Feminer Dinner’ in the Central Museum of Utrecht. During this three-course dinner, girls from all over The Netherlands are welcomed to join this amazing opportunity to dine and converse with women with top positions in economics, fashion, medicine and more. They created THE opportunity to network with the most influential women from The Netherlands and ask them all of your questions. At the same time, you have the chance to meet new girls with similar aspirations as you, with whom you can share ideas and ambitions, and who undoubtedly have a similar bright future ahead. This year, 16 top women will be attending, including the Chief Editor of Vogue, Karin Sweenk, and top cardiologist, Angela Maas, – two women who have fought their way to the top.
Do you speak Dutch and also want to join this inspiring evening? Applications are open until the 21th of February. You can apply via www.feminer.nl/aanmelden and you can even let them know which woman you are dying to talk to. If you want to keep up with the developments of this initiative, make sure to like their page on Facebook (Stichting Feminer) and follow them on Instagram (@feminernl). Knowing the ambitious and opiniated girls that study here at UCR, I hope to see some of you there as well, to get inspired and to also inspire others – because I know that you are all more than able to do so!
Lamba Tamana, Class of 2019, is a Pre-Med Major, from Amersfoort, The Netherlands
Image source: from https://feminer.nl/