logo UvT
Endowed Chair of Marga Klompé
International Social Responsibility

The legacy of Marga Klompé

562020 434999786562248 1439731284 nFriday, the 16th of November marked the 100th birthday of Marga Klompé, a strong woman, who left behind an even stronger legacy. Marga Klompé was the first female minister of the Netherlands, during her time in office Klompé is best known for passing a Social Security Bill in 1963, a key reform at the time. When Marga Klompé pleaded in the Dutch Parliament that a basic minimum included a bouquet on the table she wanted to give recognition that the basic minimum of care should include a celebration of life.

When approaching the issue of healthcare and ageing, it is only natural to use Marga Klompé as an inspiration. The conference held on Friday in Tilburg University, focused on how the legacy of Marga Klompé can be used for an ethical approach to Healthcare and ageing in a globalized world.

Demographic changes in Europe are creating important shortages on the labour market. In the healthcare sector the demand and pressures are increasing due to ageing, decrease in fertility, a decrease in mortality rate, and a higher life expectancy among European. Due to the lack of numbers among the younger people to look after the elderly, the European Commission expects that between 1 and 2 million health care workers will be needed from outside the European Union in 2020.

The conference was chaired by Prof. Dr. Mirjam Van Reisen and former secretary of State of Social Welfare, Wim Meijer. In the morning, various speakers highlighted Marga Komplé’s accomplishments as not only a political figure, but as woman and a humanitarian. Zimbabwean Co-Minister of State for National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration, Sekai M. Holland, spoke about the future in health care in Africa and in Europe. She called for a policy shift towards and understanding that we are all going to age as well as understanding the differences in cultures. Mrs. Holland, urged for Policy discussions as well as exchange visits, “Europe and Africa have a lot to talk about because a lot of challenges that we have today, were started in the colonial process and they yet been fixed.”

After, a panel, chaired by Kathleen Ferrier, explored the global mobility in health care. One of the panel members and an expert on migration , Antony Ong’Ayo Otieno, stated “I have become a student of Marga Klompé” when asked what the legacy of Marga Klompé meant to him he answered “she is asking us to rethink our way of looking at life. Care is what life is about and with this the cultural challenges will be addressed because if you care for someone they won’t be afraid of colour.”

Ernst Hisch Ballin, a Professor Human Rights and European law and the former Minister of Justice, also spoke about the role of civil society in an international fundamental rights perspective on solidarity.

The morning was followed by a number of workshops titled Different interests, common solutions. Maggi Leung led the workshop Migration in the health sector from a workers perspective. While Ms. Leung agreed that everyone should have the right to migrate, they should also have the right to stay. She argued that we should also focus on migrants’ rights before they become migrants and to criticize the lack of effort by governments to keep their people.

The workshop also called for migration to be looked at a global level. The UN along with the ILO has discussed workers rights throughout the world, however, many countries; do not want to ratify such conventions. Currently, with 98 million workers worldwide; trade unions are trying to organize migrant workers. This can sometime prove difficult because many of them are very mobile. Trade Unions have now begun to focus on migrants before they leave their country of origin.

The conference brought together experts from both the relevant sectors and academia. Jan Peterson, President Huairou Commission/Groots International, stated that everyone was part of the solution and that we must work together to follow the legacy of Marga Klompé.

More information (presentations, other documents, multimedia) about the conference can be found here.