Gender Bias at Nuclear Security Summit in Hague, Women Prohibited from Serving Food

By @snksounak on
U.S. President Obama and Netherland's PM Rutte speak during the closing nwes conference of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague
U.S. President Barack Obama and Netherland's Prime Minister Mark Rutte (L) speak during the closing nwes conference of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague March 25, 2014. REUTERS/Michael Kooren

The national leaders of 53 nations gathered at the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague seem to be quite vulnerable to the presence of women around. That is exactly the explanation given for the fact that women have been prohibited from serving food at the summit.

The catering company which is responsible for providing food at the summit believes that women may distract the world leaders from concentrating. That is why only men are appointed for the job of serving the food to the guests at the summit. The uniformity in looks which Hans van der Linde, the director of the company, planned to create for his staff was not something that a woman could apparently fit in.

Mr Linde spoke to the Algemeen Dagblad, a national newspaper from the Netherlands. He indicated that women "spoil" the image of the staff. He gave an example of "platinum blonde ladies" who would be misfits among 20 gentlemen serving for guests. He also said that "pretty, conspicuous ladies" would hinder the possibilities of forming a "reserved" team of personnel. Mr Linde clearly did not want women to be a part of his staff.

Mr Linde's comments which explicitly portrayed his gender bias were greeted with harsh criticism on social media. Then, he planned to justify his decision to have male staffs only as he spoke to Radio 1. He said that he initially had a creative idea of employing only women "in little Delft Blue dresses" to serve the guests. However, the ministry of Foreign Affairs apparently rejected his idea.

Mr Linde too thought his initial idea was impractical as women could not be able to lift their legs "high enough" as the service required them to climb up "very steep flight of stairs". Protocolbureau Director Jean-Paul Weijers confirmed to The Independent that the decision to leave women from the service could be due to possible distraction to the world leaders. He also said that the representatives from Muslim countries might also have made an influence in the decision making.

Channel 4 News Presenter Cathy Newman wrote on The Telegraph that Mr Linde's chauvinism was not something to be excused.

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