Former political leader Femke Halsema has been nominated as mayor for the Dutch city of Amsterdam. She has become the first woman to be given the role in the city’s history. Whereas most big cities in the Netherlands have previously had women mayors, the capital itself has never been led by a woman.

Halsema was born to a social democratic family, a little away from Amsterdam in the Dutch city of Haarlem. She studied social science at Utrecht University, specializing in the field of criminology. Halsema then started working for the Labour Party, where she was seen as a rising star.

She later switched to the left-wing green party Groenlinks. In 1998, she was elected as a member of the lower house of parliament. She acted as the party’s leader for eight years — between 2002 and 2010. Halsema later stepped down from frontline politics.

Halsema said she is “happy, proud and humbled” by the nomination

Amsterdam had its first mayor in 1343.

The 52-year-old has been nominated by the left-led city council. The move is yet to be ratified by the government and signed by the king, but that is seen as a formality.

Back in 2011, Halsema retired from frontline politics. She will now succeed Eberhard van der Laan, who died last year.

She was nominated a few months after a group of 45 prominent Amsterdam women protested in an open letter demanding for a woman to take up the job. “For a capital city that considers itself emancipated, diverse, tolerant, gender-neutral and progressive, this is becoming embarrassing,” they wrote.

There had long been debates regarding choosing a woman, they complained, but when the time came it had been absurdly stated there was no appropriate woman for the job.

Halsema has also worked as a writer, made several television documentary series, and has led several research projects and presided over a number of charitable foundations.

However, her nomination has not been unanimously received. Critics claim that she had no suitable administrative experience. Approximately, 7,400 people have also signed a petition against her.

Her green policies are often complained about. Critics ask: “Do you want a mayor who stands up for your city, rather than the whole planet?”

Picture Credit: Trouw

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Apoorva Lamba is an intern with SheThePeople.Tv     

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