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Maastrichtenaar Lilianne Ploumen to be first female PvdA party leader in history

Lilianne Ploumen, born and bred in Maastricht, will be the new PvdA (Labour Party) leader.

Lodewijk Asscher decided not to become the new party leader after the publication of the damning report on the Toeslagenaffaire. Ploumen is the first female list leader in the history of the PvdA.

Ploumen says she wants to stand up for people who feel less than others.

"When the government turns against you. When you are not taken seriously because you are a woman. When you are not heard."

In her role as Minister Ontwikkelingssamenwerking in the Rutte II cabinet she gained international fame by founding She Decides. With this, she took up the cause of sexual education and safe abortion in developing countries. Ploumen started the initiative because Trump cut off funding to Planned Parenthood and organisations that assist women and men with abortion. Almost €400 million has been raised so far. The campaign continues with calling on US President Joe Biden to repeal the #GlobalGagRule first implemented by the Reagan administration in 1984, restricting US global health NGO's that provide access to abortion services, reinstated and tightened by the Trump administration resulting in women and girls being denied healthcare and turned away from clinics towards unsafe services.

After her ministry, Ploumen became a member of parliament. In the Tweede Kamer, she held the portfolios of Foreign Affairs and Healthcare. In recent years, Ploumen has campaigned for the return of the pill to the basic health insurance and for choice aid for pregnant women. She was also vice-chair of the PvdA.

The title of her recently published autobiography De deur naar de macht (The Door to Power) totally suggests that she aspired to leadership.

By her own admission, it was not her plan to become leader of the PvdA. She called Asscher's departure last week a blow that she was upset about and today spoke of a "couple of very strange days" she has had.

"I had to ask myself, am I ready?"

Her answer is 'yes' and if the party congress also says so next weekend, 58-year-old Ploumen will become the first female party leader of the PvdA. Potentially, she may also become the first female Minister-President of the Netherlands, she said today.

"Every party leader must aspire to the office of prime minister."

The Dutch general elections are in on 17 March.

Photo: Lilianne Ploumen at the announcement of her leadership candidacy 2021

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