SONGSOPTOK: What, in your experience, is the status of a girl child in the family? Is she treated in the same way as the male child? If not, what are the major differences in treatment?

BIANCA: In my experience children are equal in a family, whether they’re male or female. In the Netherlands, all children have the same rights.

SONGSOPTOK: Does the girl child have equal access to education in your country irrespective of economic or social status? What are the main factors that affect the equality or inequality of access to education?

BIANCA:  In the Netherlands, children have the same educational opportunities. However, in some job positions, men still earn more than women. This difference can be blamed on the fact that men are seen physically stronger than women in some positions in society. What also can happen is that women choose to work part-time to take care for the children.

SONGSOPTOK: Do you think that women, contrary to men, always have to make a choice between home life and professional career? Is it fair either on men or women? What is your personal experience?

BIANCA:  I think women to choose to take care of the children more then men. In the Netherlands, women do not need to choose between a family and a career these days. However, women do feel more responsible to take care of the children when they’re young. Eventually women can choose to focus on a career when the children are a bit older or when they go to school.

SONGSOPTOK: Detailed studies have shown that there are very few women across the world who occupy really top positions both in the private and public sectors. How do you explain this fact? Do you think that women are less qualified to hold top jobs or are there other explanatory factors?

BIANCA:  In general there is still a strong “male culture” in the world. Women are able to have a leading position and are not inferior to men, but unfortunately this is still happening in societies all over the world.

SONGSOPTOK: Even in the advance countries in the world, there is a large disparity between the number of men and women in political parties resulting in an under-representation of women in governments and elected councils. Do you agree with this point of view? What in your opinion are the main reasons?

BIANCA:  I agree with this argument. Indeed, there are still more men than women actively participating in politics. It would be better if there was gender equality in politics, so that politics would be more balanced and both men and women would be well represented.  Perhaps there are more men in politics because women more often choose to take care of the household and look after the children. It may also be that women don’t choose this profession because they prefer other professions. A final option could be that yet again there is a “male culture” in politics. Perhaps men are more often chosen to represent society in politics.

SONGSOPTOK: Do you think a larger participation and presence of women in all domains – economic, social and political- are actually required? Would it substantially improve the nature and quality of services and make the society a better place?

BIANCA:  Yes it would be a more balanced society if there were as many men as women on the job market. Of course choosing a profession also has to do with what a person would like to do in life and what a person prefers. I can imagine that in some occupations there are more men or women because they prefer to work in that occupation, or they feel it fits them better.

SONGSOPTOK: Do you think that for women the choice of a career and that of a family life with children should be mutually exclusive? Do you think that women who opt for both are not totally successful in either sphere? What is your own experience?

BIANCA:  I don’t believe that this is necessarily true. If women just get the opportunity to have a family as well as a career, they could be happier and get more satisfaction out of life. In my experience it is not necessary to work full-time to be successful in your career.

SONGSOPTOK: What is your opinion about the role played by the mother in bringing up children? Do you think that mothers should take more responsibility for the well-being of the children more than the father given that other than breast feeding, almost every other responsibility can be equally shared between the parents? Please explain your answer.

BIANCA:  In my opinion, when a man and woman choose to have a family together, they should take care of that family together. They should both take responsibility in taking care for their children.

SONGSOPTOK: “Women have been called queens for a long time, but the kingdom given them isn't worth ruling” said famous American writer Louisa M Alcott. Do you agree? What, in your perception, is the kingdom given to women?

BIANCA:  I absolutely agree with this. Life would be better if men and women were equals. Women sometimes live in a man’s world, while a man is nothing without a woman. The kingdom given to women is in my opinion the world. The world would be much better with more love, equality and security for everyone. These days there is too little of all of that and therefore the kingdom given to women isn’t worth ruling.

SONGSOPTOK: Do you agree that professional women have to work at least twice as hard as men to attain credibility in her chosen career? What is your personal experience? Do you think that it is a rule rather than an exception? What in your opinion needs to be done to bring greater equality in the workplace?

BIANCA:  I think there is still this “male culture” in the job market, so I do agree that women sometimes have to work twice as hard to get the same credibility. In order to get more equality on the job market both men and women have to understand that they’re equals. Women can do just as much as men. Men need to understand this and women need to believe in themselves in order to get more equality on the job market.

SONGSOPTOK: Women who choose to be ‘homemakers’ often feel that they are not respected by society in general since they do not go out to earn money, though they probably have to work harder and for longer hours. Would you agree? What needs to be done to really valorize the homemakers?

BIANCA:  I agree that homemakers probably have to work harder than anyone else. They work at home, but they often have to do the household tasks and take care for the children, all at the same time. In order to get more appreciation for homemakers anyone who never works at home should try this. Working at home, doing the housework and taking care for the children at the same time makes them understand how hard this actually is.

SONGSOPTOK: On the other hand, working women very often have to juggle their professional and personal lives to be perfect both at home and at the workplace. What is your personal experience? Do you think that a woman really have to be perfect in both spheres or is this idea self-imposed? In your society, what is expected of working women?

BIANCA:  From my own experience, women are often perfectionists and work really hard to get what they want. I don’t know if society expects this from them. A woman absolutely does not have to be perfect in everything. This isn’t even possible. Everybody makes mistakes and nobody is perfect. Even though some women always try to be perfect. It is most important that women listen to their hearts and they also have to listen to the voice within them. If they do that, and if they do what feels right, than women will get there.

BIANCA HAZENBERG-HUBERTS49 years old and lives in the Netherlands. She is married and has two daughters. She works as a babysitter and also works in a second-hand clothing store. Her passion is to write poetry and has published her own poetry book in the Netherlands.

We sincerely thank you for your time and hope we shall have your continued support.

Aparajita Sen:

Editor, Songsoptok.)


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