Women’s Rights in the Netherlands
Gender-based discrimination takes on many masks around the world. However, in recent years, activists and legislatures have made strides for the advancement of women’s rights in the Netherlands.

Advancing Women’s Rights in the Netherlands and the World

Women’s rights in the Netherlands are a central focus of local politics as people work for the betterment of women not only in the Netherlands but around the world. Through lobbying and the passage of legislation, the Netherlands is ahead of many countries around the world in terms of the betterment of women, and women’s rights. Betterment of women includes, but is not limited to:

  • Eliminating child brides
  • Educating young girls
  • Combating intimate partner violence and violence against women
  • Enforcing the necessity of women in negotiating peace talks in U.N. Resolution 1325
  • Promoting a woman’s involvement in the economy and politics

The Nuclear Family and Poverty

It is true that for many years, the Netherlands trailed behind much of the world in women’s rights and advancements. Women received encouragement to stay home with house and child and occasionally hold small jobs, with no opportunity for advancement in the profession or in Dutch society. As of 2013, 24.2% of women with children lived below the poverty line in comparison to 0% of men with children.

The nuclear family model around the world has been promoting the idea that the male in the family has to be the one to provide for the family, while the mother stays at home to take care of the children and the house. This frequently leaves women in a financially unstable position without the ability to provide for themselves and creating a gendered financial disparity.

Dismantling Gender Roles

The Netherlands has spent time working to dismantle the gender roles that people associate with the nuclear family. By better incorporating Dutch women into the labor market and government positions, women are finally finding ways to support themselves and their families. Organizations like the McKinsey Project work to advance women’s participation in the labor market through lobbying and creating opportunities for the betterment of women.

Beginning with the Work and Care Act implemented in 2001, part of supporting families for Dutch women include up to 16 weeks of paid maternity leave in which they were entitled to 100% of their median earnings as calculated over the previous year. Meanwhile, their partners can take one week with pay, and up to five partially-paid weeks.

Parent leave is another beneficial measure that a parent can take up until a child’s 8th birthday. Parental leave is when parents can take up to 26 times their working hours. Take, for example, if a parent works 40 hours per week, they have 1,040 working hours to take for the sake of their child in the event they need to take time for/with their child. Additionally, they can spread the time out however they may need.

The implementation of programs like the Work and Care Act, and work with organizations like the McKinsey Project are just a few of the ways the Netherlands has been making strides in promoting the economic, political and social advancement of its women over the last several years. It is important to acknowledge that while gender-based oppression still exists around the world, the Netherlands included, the strides the country has made is admirable.

Jessica Raskauskas
Photo: Flickr

Artificial pollinators
More than 570 million farms exist in the world today. Notably, 45% of the world’s population lives in rural areas; a number that is equivalent to 3.4 billion people. However, today, 2 billion people sustain themselves through agriculture. While the entirety of human-kind depends on agriculture for sustenance, only 33% of the population depends on agriculture to survive, economically. In this same vein, farmers’ livelihoods have been threatened by Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a leading cause in the decline of bees. With a decrease in natural pollinators, researchers are creating artificial pollinators to sustain our ecosystem.

The Birds & Bees Falling Short

Birds, bees and other insects are the world’s crop pollinators and cross-pollinators. Bees can pollinate more than $15 billion of crops every year in the U.S. alone. In 2016, however, seven species of Hawaiian bees were declared endangered, as well as a bee that is native to the East Coast and Midwest of the U.S. Researchers are now looking to artificial pollinators and robotics as a substitute to help fulfill the world’s agricultural needs.

Robotic Dragonflies and Miniature Drones

In the Netherlands, a group at the Technical University of Delft is creating drones — robotic dragonflies — that will recognize, land on, and pollinate flowers. Assistant professor Guido de Croon said that they “use robot dragonflies which mimic insects flying by flapping their wings… this will be beneficial once miniaturization of these drones has taken place. They’ll be able to fly longer without recharging.” The drones can also communicate with each other to avoid contact and possible damage to themselves. In the future, these robotic dragonflies will work in greenhouses to aid in plant health, i.e., watering and safe pesticide use.

Soap Bubble Pollination

An associate professor at the Japan Institute of Science and Technology, Eijiro Miyako, has used soap bubbles carried by drones to pollinate a pear orchard. Inspired by blowing bubbles with his son, Miyako notes that “soap bubbles have innovative potentiality and unique properties, such as effective and convenient delivery of pollen grains to targeted flowers and high flexibility to avoid damaging them.” Miyako’s team used GPS-controlled drones to direct soap bubbles, carrying pollen grain, at fake lilies from two meters away and had a 90% success rate.

This is by far a cheaper source for pollination and according to Miyako, more efficient than other artificial pollinators. Instead of using human labor, Miyako hopes to continue to advance this eccentric, bubble pollinator. Previously, Miyako used a two-centimeter long drone to pollinate but found that the flowers were getting harmed in the process. This pollinating technique is “flower-friendly” in Miyako’s experience, far safer for the fruit or flower.

More Innovative Technologies

Other researchers have created robot bees and dragonflies and one group has created a backpack to attach to real dragonflies to assist in the pollination process. In any case, these insects are crucial to our ecosystem. While technology should never fully replace the natural process — it is useful to have these innovations to assist. Those who live in rural areas depend on the ecosystem and environment around them — including crops and agriculture. Although these technologies remain unperfected, solutions like these artificial pollinators are working to protect livelihoods.

Hannah Kaufman
Photo: Pikist

Poverty Eradication in the NetherlandsThe Netherlands had the fifth lowest poverty rate in the world in 2019 at 13%, with an excepted decrease down to only 7% by the end of 2020. The Dutch maintain a high standard of living. They also maintain a low unemployment rate with the sixth largest economy in the European Union. There is a relatively high standard of living and a low poverty rate. However, the Dutch continue to face hurdles of social exclusion in efforts to combat poverty. Poverty rates are lower in the Netherlands than in many surrounding nations. Nonetheless, well over one million Dutch citizens are still living below the poverty line. The National Reform Programme, discussed below, outlines some of the ways the Dutch have worked toward poverty eradication in the Netherlands.

Tax Breaks to Benefit Education and Innovation

Each year, the Netherlands releases a National Reform Programme that reports on the state of the economy, the budget, future changes and reforms. Included in the 2019 program is the plan to reduce tax burden on citizens and small businesses while increasing taxes on large corporations. All of this is in addition to creating additional investments in the public sector. This plan intends to strengthen households and the Dutch economy as a whole with specific attention to fostering innovation and promoting entrepreneurship. In addition to tax cuts for citizens, the program proposes an increased investment in research of €400 million. The investment works to expand innovation, strengthen the economy and move toward poverty eradication in the Netherlands. Much of the investment will benefit research specifically through the education system.

Housing Inequality

Despite relatively low poverty levels in the Netherlands, social exclusion pervades many Dutch communities since it excludes them from participating in various associations. Not only are these associations economic but they also have to do health, welfare and education. This phenomenon leads to a deficient citizenship when citizens are unable to fully enjoy the rights and privileges the majority of the country has access to. This issue pervades the housing market in the Netherlands as the wealthy country sees continuous rises in housing prices that alienate low-income populations.

In order to combat this, the National Reform Programme lays out measures to ensure accessible, affordable and stable housing. Creating equal housing opportunities is essential to poverty eradication in the Netherlands. This program is underlined by a mortgage debt repayment plan that aims to incentivize paying off mortgages through interest deductions of 3 percentage points per year. It begins this year and plans on reaching a maximum of 37%. Additionally, the government plans to incentivize the accelerated construction of new homes as the housing supply is scarce.

Refugee Crisis

Many of those living in poverty in the Netherlands are asylum seekers, often from the war-torn region of Syria. The Dutch government is working to support the refugee population in the Netherlands. They suffer from much higher levels of poverty than their nationals. In order to do this, it has committed to creating special programs. These programs will ensure the safe reception of asylum seekers as poverty eradication in the Netherlands stars abroad. Internationally, the Netherlands supports education programs for refugee children. It supports housing opportunities for refugees in countries in their region of origin. It supports other rights protection programs as well.

Additionally, the Netherlands encourages businesses to hire from refugee populations. It also offers additional support to startups that benefit asylum-seeking populations. Further plans for assisting refugees and other vulnerable populations within the nation are laid out in the National Reform Programme. Investment and individualized support will be offered through pathway guidance and job training to aid these populations in their participation in the labor market and to increase financial freedom.

Jazmin Johnson
Photo: Unsplash

Hunger in the NetherlandsAs one of the most substantial influencers in agricultural viability, as well as one of the foremost exporters of agricultural products throughout the globe, the Netherlands is not a country that the world would easily associate with hunger. Even with a lower rate of poverty and malnourishment than many other countries, the Netherlands must overcome the remaining barriers for those lingering in destitution. Fortunately, the country thinks big.

Poverty Within The Country

Since 2015, poverty has decreased in the Netherlands, while the country has experienced a growth period in its economy. Yet, those who still remain in poverty find themselves at a decrease in the ability to meet their basic needs over these recent years of prosperity. As of 2019, there were 169 food banks providing for the poor across the country. The ongoing issue is the access and awareness of this kind of assistance for families who find themselves in need of it most. Solving hunger in the Netherlands is only a portion of the country’s goals.

Eliminating Hunger On A Global Scale

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Netherlands has dedicated itself to resolving hunger following its driven Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The country’s aims are to improve food intake, efficiency and international trade, as well as enhance resilience to the imbalance in the environment and economy and provide better care for renewable resources.

Planning For Change

Eleanor Roosevelt famously voiced, “It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” The Netherlands has chosen to put its energy into planning. The country’s SDGs have inspired certain procedures that are already seeing success in Burundi. The Dutch embassy has supported a project empowering almost 40,000 farmers with a plan of action for the present and a vision of how their investments will pay off in the future. The project Supporting Agricultural Productivity in Burundi (PAPAB) uses this Integrated Farm Planning (PIP) method to help farmers understand the fulfillment in their work with the hopes of engaging the community in improved practices. These farmers have significant increases in earnings, production and security with each plan, as well as major reductions in environmental impacts.

How 8,000 Students Will Feed The Hungry

Wageningen University & Research (WUR) located in Wageningen, Netherlands comprises food scientists capable of eradicating hunger in the Netherlands as well as the rest of the world. Professor Louise O. Fresco, the university president, is motivated by a unique history that encourages her to end global hunger. Fresco was born amongst the aftermath of the Dutch Hunger Winter.

This famine took place in the 1940s as Nazi troops obstructed the food supply to the Netherlands. Studies have proven that those born around the time of this famine are at a higher risk of adverse health and psychological conditions due to the stressful environment at the time. However, Fresco sees an enabling connection between her birth and her current work which has inspired her to lead an institution where people share her passions.

Many students at the university agree that the real barricade in solving world hunger is the overproduction of food that many deem necessary in Europe, yet a large percentage of that supply becomes wasted and its production ultimately hurts the environment. The real goals are to solve these problems with minimal impact on the environment in order to achieve sustainability and reach those who are malnourished.

Students are developing innovations to meet these overall necessities. The vertical farming method, for example, allows for the growth of additional food while avoiding the use of additional land. Another project that students at the university are working on is a method called forest farming revealing the eco-friendly benefits of small-scale farming over large-scale farming.

As the country leads with innovative and inspiring techniques, approaching hunger in the Netherlands has lead to fantastic possibilities for the rest of the world.

Amy Schlagel
Photo: Pixabay


In 2018, the Netherlands’ government reported that 584,000 households, or 7.9% of the general population, were subsisting on an income at or below the poverty line. In other words, they were making less than 60% of the national median disposable income. This is relatively low; the Netherlands has the fifth-lowest rate of poverty amongst the nations in the European Union, and poverty rates have been on the decline over the past several years due to economic growth and lower unemployment rates. However, refugee poverty in the Netherlands remains a major concern.

The Netherlands’ Reputation

Refugees and immigrants have always been attracted to the country because of its historically high levels of tolerance. The Netherlands is also notorious for being a nation of prosperity, egalitarianism, and humanitarian aid. For instance, in World War I, 900,000 Belgians sought refuge in the Netherlands, which was neutral, to escape fighting. During the Holocaust, tens of thousands of people fleeing the Nazis hid in the Netherlands until it was occupied by Axis powers. 

Fast forward to the twenty-first century, and once again, tens of thousands of people from all over the world are applying for asylum in the Netherlands each year. Although some are moving around within the European Union, many are escaping their war-torn countries of birth. In 1998, this was due to the Yugoslav wars, which kept the number of asylum seekers at high numbers until 2004. In 2015, the Syrian Civil War commenced the flow of a new wave of refugees that are still coming in high numbers today.

Refugees Struggle Financially

Although these refugees are welcomed into the country, they do not fare as well economically as their Dutch counterparts. Currently, 79% of Syrian refugees are making less than the low-income threshold, and 95% rely on income support as their main source of income.  The nationality of refugees that are best off, Iranians, are still four times as likely to be living in poverty as their Dutch counterparts. In total, 53% of refugee households have a low income

A cycle has developed because sectors of the Dutch economy, such as agriculture and labor, depend on migrant workers. However, these jobs consistently do not pay well, and few efforts have been made to increase their wages. Because refugees typically do not have schooling on par with those from the EU, they have limited job options, and they continue to struggle economically.

Who Is Helping

The Dutch government has done a lot to help incoming refugees. To ensure that immigrants are adjusting well to a new country, immigrants must take a national integration exam within three years of arrival. There are additional levels of support for highly educated refugees resettling in the Netherlands. The Foundation for Refugee Students (UAF) allows for better planning of “educational guidance, language training and educational courses once refugees arrive in the Netherlands.” UAF provides housing for refugees in areas that are close to universities and higher education establishments, and it has recently created a mentor program that matches Dutch students with resettled refugees to provide them with support to settle into university life.

The Netherlands has been a place refugees immigrated to during many different conflicts, including the 2015 Syrian Civil War. However, an economic gap still remains between native-born Dutch citizens and refugees. In order to address this issue, the government and UAF have been working to make the transition into the country easier and positively impact refugee poverty in the Netherlands. 

– Sophie van Leeuwen
Photo: Pixabay

The Marshall Plan
In 1947, Europe was still feeling World War II’s devastation. Rebuilding was not going as fast as necessary and people of every country were feeling the impacts. Economies had nearly come to a complete halt in most countries and there were up to 11 million refugees that needed to find jobs, homes and food. The United States was the only superpower in the world that could offer any assistance to the people of Europe because the war did not entirely influence its industries. The reason for the implementation of the Marshall Plan was to help people rebuild their homes and industries, as well as provide security and an economic boost to the U.S.

The Marshall Plan’s Origins

The Marshall Plan, formerly called the European Recovery Program, was an initiative proposed by the United States Secretary of State, George C. Marshall, in 1947. The plan aimed to accomplish several things. First, it was to provide aid to kickstart European countries whose economies the war destroyed. The second was to promote free trade that would not only benefit those countries but the United States as well. The third was to contain the spread of communism that was sweeping over Eastern Europe.

The Marshall plan gave aid to 15 countries; the United Kingdom, West Germany, Austria, France, the Netherlands, Iceland, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Denmark, Belgium, Sweden, Ireland, Portugal and Norway. President Harry Truman signed the plan into law on April 3, 1948; it brought aid to Europe in the form of machinery, fuel, food and money.

Aid for the Netherlands

World War II hit the Netherlands hard when the German forces occupied the country from 1940-1945. The war heavily damaged its infrastructure, agriculture and housing and they were in desperate need of repair. To rebuild its infrastructure, The Marshall Plan gave half a million dollars to the cement industry to repair roads, bridges and ports. The port in Rotterdam was particularly important because the country uses it to import goods. The Plan provided more funds to build housing for 9.5 million people living in the Netherlands. Fixing the agriculture of the Netherlands required the country to modernize its practices. It spent funds on new farming equipment and the treatment and repairing of the soil destroyed by years of fighting. In total, the Netherlands received $1.127 billion to rebuild its country.

Aid for Germany

Germany split in two shortly after World War II ended. The Soviet Union controlled East Germany while the United States and its allies controlled West Germany. West Germany received $1.4 billion in Marshall Plan aid although the war heavily impacted it. The whole of Germany had an aggressive bombing campaign to destroy its cities and invading armies from the west and east devastated the country’s communities. Twelve percent of the aid to West Germany went towards housing the nearly eight million refugees that had settled there after the war. These houses were necessary with a population of 67.9 million. Coal was another industry that was in desperate need; 40 percent of funding went towards this so that Germany could fuel its industries and factories. The funds from the Marshall Plan helped the German people find homes, jobs and food.

Aid for the UK

German bombings on British industrial sites had a terrible impact on the production of British goods, particularly on its southern cities. By 1948, the United Kingdom had mostly recovered from the war, but it needed to address more. While the U.K. was able to rebuild, the country was deep in debt and was having a challenging time feeding its people and keeping its industries going. Because of its 1948 population of 50 million people and its contribution to the war effort, the U.K. received the largest sum from the Marshall Plan, $3.2 billion. These funds provided the country with financial stability and allowed it to balance out its economy. While the aid did not go towards helping the U.K.’s economy, it benefited from the food and fuel brought in and the breathing room necessary to stabilize its country.

In total, the United States spent over $13 billion in aid for the 15 countries. These countries were able to provide food, fuel, housing and stability for their people during a devastating time thanks to the Marshall Plan. The average GDP of the nations that received aid increased from their prewar levels by 35 percent, and overall industrial production rose by 40 percent. The U.S. was also a beneficiary of the economic success of the European nations engaging in trade. In the decade following the end of the Marshall Plan in 1951, the GDP of the United States had nearly doubled. The Marshall Plan shows the benefits of providing foreign aid that can help not only those receiving but those giving as well.

– Sam Bostwick
Photo: Flickr

New Approach in the Netherlands

The Social and Economic Council (SEC) recommended a new approach to the government in the Netherlands to combat poverty. The Council have revealed that families in the Netherlands often do not benefit from special provisions aimed to help the poor. This is because 60 percent of children in the Netherlands who live in poverty have at least one parent with a job.

Despite recent attempts to reduce the number of poor children, such as renewed attention to poverty reduction in Dutch development policies, the number of children growing up in long term poverty has gone up 7 percent to 125,000 as of February 2019.

While the Netherlands is known as one of the wealthiest counties in the world, wealth is still not distributed evenly. Many children suffer the consequences of their family’s poverty and have less access to education and health services.

What’s Being Done Now

The Social and Economic Council said that authorities should appoint one official to try to quantify the problem and to improve the often-complicated forms which need to be filled in to apply for help.

Currently, a small poverty analysis and policy desk has been created within the Ministry with the main task of integrating attention to poverty reduction into all the activities of Dutch aid. Furthermore, in the field of aid implementation, there is an effort to make Dutch aid more demand-driven to reach the poorest areas of the country.

How It’s Affecting Immigration

The struggle to stay above the poverty line has revealed that the amount of people holding two jobs has also increased within the Netherlands to nearly half a million people. Young people are most likely to combine two jobs. Of those 15 to 25-year old’s who work at least 12 hours a week, more than 12 percent have two jobs. This raises concerns for anyone trying to find a job and creates hostility towards immigrants.

Even the most pro-Europe Dutch political parties had 53 percent of its voters considering it unwise to allow free movement of workers. Minister for Social Affairs and Employment Lodewijk Ascher has already expressed his concerns that cheap labor could flood the Netherlands and said that former British Prime Minister David Cameron’s calls for limits on EU migration were “potentially interesting.”

The Future

The first steps of improvement have already been made by acknowledging the need for change. The Dutch policies on fighting childhood poverty need to be revised according to the SER. In 2014, a total of 378 thousand kids in the Netherlands grew up in poverty, with a remarkable 219,000 of these kids living in a home where at least one parent has a paying job. According to SER chairman Mariette Hamer, these numbers prove a new approach is needed.

Mariette Hamer also pointed out that these families are earning too little and in addition, they usually deal with paying off debt. The SER’s advice includes appointing a poverty manager in each municipality. This manager can help improve the cooperation between the different institutes and simplify procedures. The manager must also help low-income households find their way to services that can help. This new approach in the Netherlands could greatly help those in need.

Why Does It matter?

Wealthier countries, like the Netherlands, provide research to help poorer countries make good decisions. While their poverty levels are not nearly as bad as other areas of the world, there is still room for improvement. The policy has to be based on evidence. Academics, development organizations and research is needed to provide evidence for what works and what doesn’t.

Poverty reduction is a moral issue, but it is also a matter of smart policy. More prosperous societies are more stable societies. By working out a new approach in the Netherlands, it could help other children living in poverty all over the world.

– Grace Arnold
Photo: Flickr

The Netherlands lies by the coast of the Atlantic Ocean with a temperate marine climate. It is rainy for most of the four seasons. There are hundreds of locations for groundwater extraction all over the Netherlands. Thanks to natural filtering and isolation from external sources of pollution, the groundwater has a low degree of contamination. Hence, it does not require complicated procedures for purification.

As reported by the Dutch public health agency RIVM, due to human factors, the quality of tap water in some areas of the Netherlands does not meet the expected standards. It is also indicated by its survey that about 60 percent of drinking water in the Netherlands is sourced from the ground, and the rest is provided by surface water. Because of the contamination resulted from pesticides, industrial emissions and improper waste disposal, more than half of the groundwater used is below the international standard of water quality.

Regarding surface water quality in the Netherlands, the quality was also poor due to the pollution from drugs, cosmetics, pesticides and other chemical residues. Some factories of wastewater treatment were unable to purify these harmful substances. RIVM has called for the establishment of a better environmental monitoring system on the sources of drinking water.

The drinking water quality in the Netherlands depends on the variations in regional management. The test standard is more strict than bottled water in the market.  The related Dutch laws such as Drinking Water Law and Water Pipeline Management Measures aim to ensure water quality. Organizations in the chain of water production, including companies and collective supply units, all must regularly check the water quality in the Netherlands and inspect the results. The Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment of the Netherlands also publishes annual reports on the quality of drinking water each year.

The latest Dutch water law was enacted in 2009. It aims to stress the impact of climate change and sea-level rise on flood control security, release the pressure of population demands from increased water consumption and accelerate integrated management of water resources.

Water quality in the Netherlands across drinking water from rivers, lakes and the ground has improved greatly over the past decade, to great praise. The successful practice of water management by law and regulations from the Dutch government has been recognized as “the miracle of drinking water” by media in Europe. Nevertheless, further efforts are still needed to maintain the water quality in the Netherlands, in addition to the promotion of water management practices from a single country to the world.

– Xin Gao

                                                       

Common Diseases in the NetherlandsThe Netherlands is located in Northwestern Europe and has a population of about 17 million. Non-communicable diseases, like in many other parts of the world, increasingly affect the Dutch and cause about 90 percent of deaths in the country. The following are the most common diseases in the Netherlands.

1. Neoplasms

The Netherlands has the 12th highest rate of cancer in the world, in part due to increased awareness and diagnosis. Thirty-three percent of deaths in the country are due to cancer. Lung cancer is the most prevalent, followed by breast cancer and intestinal cancer. Skin cancer and pancreatic cancer cases also are increasing, and, between 2005 and 2015, the mortality rate of pancreatic cancer increased by 12 percent.

During that same period, the mortality rate of lung cancer, which is especially common because of smoking, increased by six percent. The premature death rates and prevalence of lung cancer, pancreatic cancer and breast cancer are significantly higher in the Netherlands than in similar countries.

2. Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)

CVD causes 29 percent of deaths in the Netherlands. Although the mortality rate of CVD has declined since the second half of the 20th century, the burden remains. Ischemic heart disease is especially crippling to the country. In 2007, it was estimated that about 730,400 people were living with ischemic heart disease.

3. Chronic Respiratory Diseases

Chronic respiratory diseases cause six percent of deaths. Lung diseases in the Netherlands are especially prevalent because of the high percentage of smokers. About 28 percent of people in the country smoke. Because of this, there are roughly 23,000 lung related deaths per year and over one million lung patients.

In addition to lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is also prevalent in the county. Between 2005 and 2015, the mortality rate of COPD increased by 9.5 percent. The premature death rate is significantly higher in the Netherlands compared to similar countries. COPD can lead to emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

4. Mental and Behavioral Disorders

Mental health is important to recognize in the Netherlands. Depressive disorders are a leading cause of death and disability in the country. In 2014, about eight percent of the population claimed to be suffering from depression, accounting for more than one million people.

5. Alzheimer’s Disease

Dementia affects 1.47 percent of the Dutch population. In 2012, about 245,568 people lived with dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is especially common as the mortality rate increased by 18.6 percent between 2005 and 2015. Risk factors of Alzheimer’s include age, genetics, traumatic brain injury and mild cognitive impairment. Research also suggests that cardiovascular disease and education level may be linked to the disease.

Poor lifestyle choices are commonly associated to many of these diseases. Smoking, for example, is a major risk factor and something that should be recognized when addressing rates of diseases such as lung cancer and COPD. Improving health education is one step in helping decrease the rates of these common diseases in the Netherlands.

Francesca Montalto

Photo: Flickr

Human Rights in the NetherlandsThe Netherlands is a modern nation located in Western Europe, between Belgium and Germany. The nation is home to more than 17 million people; three-fourths of them are Dutch. Over the years, the nation has proven itself to be a world leader by becoming a founding member of NATO and what is now the European Union. An area in which the Netherlands needs to improve, however, is its protection of human rights. While there are measures in place to protect human rights in the Netherlands, significant room for improvement remains.

According to the 2015 United States Department of State’s report on human rights in the Netherlands, there are several aspects concerning the protection of those rights that are particularly weak in the country. There has been widespread hostility and unfair treatment toward certain religious and ethnic groups; Muslim immigrants and Jewish people in particular have been afflicted. In an effort to quell the discrimination, 200 Jews and Muslims marched from a synagogue to a mosque in an effort to demonstrate solidarity. It is important to consider that the constitution forbids discrimination based on religion and that it is a crime under the law to publicly say things that promote hatred of religious groups.

Another human rights issue in the Netherlands that needs to be addressed is overcrowding in certain prison and detention centers. The prison and detention centers in the Netherlands meet international standards for the most part, but overcrowding has been a problem in Sint Maarten as a result of prison renovations.

The Department of State’s report also noticed discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons. However, this is one area in which the government is taking steps to combat discrimination. For instance, the law mandates that elementary and secondary schools address diversity and LGBTI issues as a method to alleviate the problem through education. Courts in the Netherlands even have the ability to provide higher penalties to perpetrators of violence against LGBTI persons who acted because of their bias against this community.

The Netherlands has made notable progress in protecting certain human rights, but hopefully they continue to make strides forward in order to improve on human rights in all areas.

Adam Braunstein