Future generations and female role models

Future generations and female role models.

Juliette van Eerdewijk, Primary Principal, International School of The Hague

Our young people who grow up to be the new leaders, the future workforce and parents of our world have a right to equal opportunities. It is also our human right to be treated equally no matter our differences. Yet, what we experience in 2020 is still not providing the world with a platform that allows for equal opportunities. One area, besides many others, that needs to be tackled is the global gender gap. In the World Economic Forum report of 2020, the following was stated.


Projecting current trends into the future, the overall global gender gap will close in 99.5 years, on average, across the 107 countries covered continuously since the first edition of the report. Lack of progress in closing the Economic Participation and Opportunity gap leads to an extension of the time it will be needed to close this gap. At the slow speed experienced over the period 2006–2020, it will take 257 years to close this gap.
– World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap report 2020 – pg 6 # 7


Furthermore, the WEF report identifies the following:
By region, Western Europe has made the most progress on gender parity (at 76.7%), followed by North America (72.9%), Latin America and the Caribbean (72.2%), Eastern Europe and Central Asia (71.3%), Sub-Saharan Africa (68.2%), South Asia (66.1%) and the Middle East and North Africa (60.5%)


This translates into gender parity in years as:

· 54 yrs – Western Europe

· 59 yrs – Latin America and the Caribbean

· 71.5 yrs – South Asia

· 95 yrs – Sub-Saharan Africa

· 107 yrs – Eastern Europe and Central Asia

· 140 yrs – The Middle East and North Africa

· 151 yrs – North America

· 163 yrs – East Asia and the Pacific


The 99.5 years was already bad enough, but the slow speed experienced in the recent decade will delay this to 257 years. Surely as educators and leaders, we can’t allow this to happen to our great-great-grandchildren. This is not just a female issue, this is a world issue, this is something we all need to tackle. We need men to stand up and demand a change so that their great-granddaughters have a right to dream and follow a career they want, as doctors, engineers, in computing, politics, technical, you name it. Do men find it acceptable that this will happen to their own flesh and blood? Or are they just thinking of their own cosy position at the moment, without a care for the future?

We need to better equip our future generation to deal with the challenges that they will be facing and ensure that there are equal opportunities for women, to give them the skills to participate in the economy and the complete labour market, to give them a chance to open a bank account and control their own finances and obtaining credit, to be involved in politics. We need to provide them with the role models in our educational system, where we encourage young females to take the steps to choose subjects that will lead to a greater choice of opportunities in the labour market.

In international education, we pride ourselves in making our students independent, forward-thinking, life-long learners. We help them to get skills that create future leaders, future workers who can contribute to the economic stability of our country and world in general. This future is built on students’ historical experiences and we are currently their experience. So, what picture do we provide them with? What role models do we give to them that will allow them to be so forward-thinking or willing to accept diversity in the workplace, such as gender balance, racial equity and equal pay.

Whilst the world of education is currently still dominated by white males allowing this to continue is an offence, as we are robbing the next generation of a future where they would have equal rights, something we still do not have in 2020. We would ostracize them from many possibilities and lead them into stereotypical work, stereotypical behaviour and nothing will have changed from 2020. We would rob them of opportunities, of visions of equality and we would be the violator whilst they would be the victim. We make our children the victims of our choices.

The importance of having female leaders as role models is vital to both our males and females. Breaking the stereotypical image of a leader as a white male is needed for our future generation to connect with a world where they are supposed to be functioning to their fullest capacity, contributing to new innovations and keeping our world a healthy and safe place, and guiding others to make the right choices. Males need to be able to start seeing that women leaders are able to bring strength to companies, research has already shown that diversity in leadership brings different voices to the decision-making process which in return leads to better decisions. Young females need to see women in these roles so that they have a role model that they can learn from, and at the same time males can learn from female role models just as well. Young people need to see that these jobs can become a reality for anyone and are not just there for a few lucky ones. Our young people need to see that females can hold the top positions, have the ability, the skills and the drive to be capable of a job and therefore be equal to men.

The focus here may have been gender, but this applies to many more differences, that would provide us with even more depressing data, such as equality for people of colour, for those with disabilities to name but a few.

Breaking the stereotyping of jobs for females, jobs for people of colour, jobs for people with disabilities, jobs for anyone who is marginalised, has got to start with us, right now. Us means all of us. Not just women, not just people of colour, not just people with disabilities, we all need to make conscious decisions that things have got to change. We cannot allow the future generation to suffer, because we did not find it important enough to raise our voice and stand up for our and their rights.

It is time for all of us to take a stance, male leaders please join us in our efforts to raise this awareness. We, and the future generation, ask for equity and for the right to be treated equally, for the right to have opportunities to be recognized for the skills and value we will bring to society. Together we can make a difference, but we do need the help of our whole society. Stand with us, raise your voice for your daughters, your granddaughters and their loved ones. Everyone will be better off if we are all given an equal chance.


What do you think about the points raised in this article? We’d love to have your thoughts below.





Juliette van Eerdewijk was born in the Netherlands and specialised in Kindergarten education and Primary education. She went abroad in 1988 and has held different leadership positions in 10 countries across Europe, South America, Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia. She has developed and led a variety of curricula, e.g. IB, IPC, English curriculum and school-based inquiry curricula. She holds a Masters of Arts degree from the UK in Specific Learning Difficulties.

Juliette returned to the Netherlands in 2015 and is currently the Primary Principal at the International School of The Hague, which includes whole school responsibilities. She is involved in training senior leaders (iNPQSL) at the International Leadership Academy where they have given an international spin to this training. Juliette is also a country lead of #WomenEdNL. She is a keen life-long learner and her hobby is wildlife photography.

3 replies
  1. Ms Tabak
    Ms Tabak says:

    Dear Mrs Van Eerdewijk,

    I really like the approach to make it as personal as possible – like trying to imagine the future of our daughters and sons. And trying to imagine the future of our students even more vividly that we normally do.
    As you state: money is a key – do we learn our primary and secondary students to deal with budgets, to bargain for resources, to lead them into self supporting choices and be confident about administration? Do we teach our boys to see their opportunities improving – because they too can be freed from expectations that are gender-driven? I am not sure about this. Hope you can shed light?

    Best wishes, Ms. Tabak

  2. Ms Foster
    Ms Foster says:

    Thank you, Ms Tabak, for sharing this with the GIN team! I know many of our secondary students will get as much out of reading this as we have. It has been eye-opening, during this pandemic, to see how female leaders have governed. We often look for charisma and confidence in leaders… but this can lead to overly confident white male leaders. This pandemic has taught me that we need to think about leadership differently – listening, meditating, and collaborating are all qualities that we need to seek and nurture in all leaders.

  3. Anna Metcalfe
    Anna Metcalfe says:

    Thank-you Juliette for taking the time to put this article together and for highlighting this vitally important area. As the previous reviewer Ms Foster rightly points out it is indeed amazing to see the success with which world female leaders have governed during this pandemic in contrast to many male conterparts. This current pandemic is such a huge lesson to the human race, in the need to ensure that ALL the rich talents that we have in the world are able to flourish and that suppression of such talents harms us all. Nurturing and supporting all people who suffer discrimination must be our priority, using empathy and education to improve connection and understanding is paramount today.


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