Mothering students

Discrimination mothering students

More than 50 percent of pregnant and mothering students in secondary vocational education, and over 75 percent in higher education, drop out at some point during their studies. This elevated risk of delay and dropout rate goes hand in hand with large student debts, further marginalizing this group.

In correspondence with the PILP, the Minister of Education, Culture and Science explained that educational facilities are responsible for pregnant and mothering students. She continued that they should therefore tailor their services to the students’ needs.

Research led by Anja Eleveld, however, highlights that the educational institutions often have few specific policies regarding maternity leave, flexible scheduling and examination dates for pregnant and mothering students. Furthermore, national law and regulations that do exist are not implemented by educational institutions equally. It is often unclear when students can invoke specific regulations. This is problematic because, according to the research produced, it leaves the wellbeing of pregnant and mothering students dependent upon the goodwill of their councillors and professors. That educational institutions think pregnancy and motherhood is a students’ choice, and thus responsibility, is at odds with the policy as expressed by the Minister of Education, Culture and Science. It follows the old adage that these students have made their bed and now they’ll have to lie in it.

The PILP takes issue with this reasoning. Where access to education for pregnant and mothering students is impaired, and opportunities for completing education limited, a students’ right to education is violated. Moreover, the gender-based implications of this issue cannot be denied. Discrimination in this area impacts women disproportionately.

Coalition Mothering Students

The PILP is exploring this issue together with the coalition for Mothering Students: Steunpunt Studerende Moedersproefprocessenfonds Clara WichmannFNV Vrouwde Nederlandse Vrouwenraad and Vereniging voor Vrouw en Recht. Together they are looking at legal options to stop the discrimination faced by pregnant and mothering students and protect their right to education.


On July 4, 2017 a motion on pregnancy leave in the MBO was adopted. The of Education, Culture and Science indicated that she will only respond to this motion after a meeting with the coalition for Student Mothers and the student unions. This meeting took place on October 10, 2017.

On February 9, 2017, the PILP was present at a conference on CEDAW recommendations and the issue of pregnant and mothering students.

On March 25, 2016, the PILP, together with the Coalition for Student Mothers, responded to the letter of the Minister of Education, Culture and Science of January 18, 2016. You can read the response here.

On January 18, 2016, we received a response from Minister Bussemaker and issued a related press release. 

On September 18, 2015, the PILP asked the Minister of Education, Culture and Science to respond to the letter of the Vereniging voor Vrouw en Recht. Read the letter sent to the Minister by the PILP, Clara Wichmann Proefprocessenfonds, FNV Vrouw, Nederlandse Vrouwen Raad and Steunpunt Studerende Moeders.

On February 26, 2015, the Vereniging voor Vrouw en Recht wrote a letter to the House of Representatives about the challenges that pregnant and mothering students face.