1972-1977 Cabinet Den Uyl: Pronk

First steps of a women and international cooperation policy

In 1974 the Den Uyl government in the Netherlands created an emancipation committee in preparation of the ‘International Women's Year’ in 1975. The goal of this committee was to prepare the emancipation policy of the Dutch government. In 1977 the policy plan “Emancipation Policy' was presented.
From 1973-1977 Jan Pronk (PvdA) was the Dutch Minister for Development Cooperation. He initiated the creation of a women and development cooperation policy.

Second feminist wave

In 1967 Joke Kool-Smit wrote ‘The discomfort of the woman’ (Het onbehagen bij de vrouw), which was published in the literary magazine De Gids. It led to the second feminist wave in the Netherlands. This wave of feminist action focused on the disadvantaged position of women in education, the workplace and political participation. 

Action in the late 60’s

In the late sixties different feminist-activist groups in the Netherlands emerged. In 1968 Man Vrouw Maatschappij (MVM) was founded and shortly after that Dolle Mina was established as well. 

In the seventies feminist magazines such as Opzij and Serpentine were established, as well as television programmes like “Ot en hoe zit het nou met Sien?”, and radio columns about female sexuality. These media spread the feminist message about women's right to self-determination, self-development and the legalisation of abortion. 

Initially in the Den Uyl coalition agreement women’s emancipation was not discussed. The MVM therefore created a postcard that said: ‘Den Uyl, it is time for an emancipation policy!’. 

Establishment emancipation committee

The MVM postcards led to some action on the part of the government. The government established an emancipation committee and a separate committee in preparation of the  ‘International Women's Year’ in 1975. 

Minister Pronk initiated research

In preparation of the ‘International Women's Year’ in 1975, Minister Pronk decided to give a team of anthropologists in Leden (among them Els Postel-Coster en Joke Schrijvers) to write a report about the position of women in development cooperation and aid. Pronk furthermore facilitated a research programme on this issue. 

Focus for women and development cooperation

Within international cooperation a focus on women emerged towards the end of the 60’s. The concern was that women would be left behind if there was not an explicit focus on women in the developmental process. Women did not have the same access as men to ‘modern’ developments and were at risk of being more of a victim of development aid than a benefitter. Researchers expected that this gender gap would not only hurt women, but the entire developmental process in the long run. (source: Vrouwen en Ontwikkeling Beleid en uitvoering in de Nederlandse ontwikkelingssamenwerking 1985–1996)


Joop den Uyl: in barre tijden, Hedy d' Ancona, Wiardi Beckmanstichting 2019

1973 Joke Kool-Smith, Er is een land waar vrouwen willen wonen. Openingsrede van het MVM-festival op 27 oktober 1973. Gepubliceerd in Vijf jaar MVM, Den Haag

1974 Instelling Emancipatie commissie. Beluister OVT (Onvoltooid Verleden Tijd) 'Emancipatieraad', 20 april 1997, vanaf 6.48.

1976 Vrouwen op Weg, Ontwikkeling naar Emancipatie, Els Postel en Joke Schrijvers e.a. 1976, Van Gorcum, Assen/Amsterdam - (in Dutch) Collection Stichting NICC.

1977 Kabinetsnota Emancipatiebeleid (in Dutch) Collection Stichting NICC.

Sources - Read more

Timeline 70+ years OS - Pronk I (in Dutch)


NICC Gender Glossary (pdf)