SHARON DIJKSMA, Minister for Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands, introducing the report of the Netherlands, said that since the last report significant progress had been made regarding the elimination of discrimination against women and the current cabinet had implemented several measures that robustly stimulated emancipation. Not providing lip service to, but rather bolstering emancipation, was the aim of the Government. The Government had invested heavily in measures aimed at creating opportunities for combining paid work with caring for children. Paid parental leave for both partners had increased from 13 to 26 weeks, and large investments had been made in childcare, adding an extra annual ª1 billion to the existing budget of ª2 billion. Nevertheless, there was still a long way to go in the field of labour participation of women, as indicated, inter alia, by the fact that only 45 per cent of the female workforce was economically independent. The Government had also taken important steps regarding the safety of women, including the Temporary Restraining Order Act that had entered into force last year; an obligatory reporting code on domestic violence and child abuse that was currently in preparation and also covered situations of honour-related violence and female genital mutilation; increased maximum sentences for perpetrators of trafficking in human beings; and the vulnerable position of lesbian women. The Government set great store by the social acceptance of lesbian women.
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