One-third of Dutch municipalities have never had a female mayor

Of the 355 municipalities in the Netherlands, one-third have never appointed a female mayor, new research has found. 

This includes Rotterdam, Eindhoven, Groningen, Tilburg and Breda, who make up five of the ten largest cities in the Netherlands.

To make matter worse, there are still 103 municipalities that currently don’t have any female aldermen elected.

Meanwhile, Druten in Gelderland, Staphorst in Overijssel and the Brabant municipalities of Woensdrecht and Mill and Sint Hubert have never had a female councillor.

The figures, compiled by knowledge platform De Collegetafel for the trade magazine Binnenlands Bestuur paint a disappointing picture of the Netherlands and equality in positions of power.

How are mayors appointed in the Netherlands?

Mayors in the Netherlands are not elected via popular vote. Instead, the city council presents a shortlist of mayors to the King and the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations who then make the final appointment. Each term is six years, and a mayor can be reappointed after that period.

Female mayors slowly increasing

Of the mayors in Dutch municipalities, females now make up almost one-quarter of the total. There are currently 85 serving mayors who are female — but it’s taken a long time to get to that number.

Miranda de Vries, mayor of Etten-Leur and member of the Council for Public Administration says that diversity on boards is important. Not just for gender, but also for different ages and ethnic backgrounds.

“In order to achieve that, it is sometimes necessary to make extra efforts,” she told NOS. “For example, not only to wait and see which people will apply for a position but also to actively approach some and make them believe they are suitable.”

She says that female mayors in major cities act as vital role models. “It is really important that Amsterdam, in the person of Femke Halsema, now has a female mayor for the first time in history. And that Sharon Dijksma has been appointed in Utrecht as the third woman in history. I also say it during school visits. to girls: “If I can become mayor, why not you?”

Are you surprised by the lack of female mayors in the Netherlands? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!

Feature Image: Gemeente Amsterdam/Supplied

Samantha Dixon
Sam isn’t great at being Dutch. Originally hailing from Australia, she came to study in the Netherlands without knowing where the country was on a map. She once accidentally ordered the entire ice-cream menu at Smullers. She still can’t jump on the back of a moving bike. But, she remains fascinated by the tiny land of tall people.


  1. While one-third of Dutch municipalities have never had female mayors, One Hundred Percent have never had ELECTED mayors. If you consider the sex of the mayor to be more important than how the mayor is chosen you obviously don’t care about democracy or the right to self determination.


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