Mrs Kathleen Ferrier
Kathleen G. Ferrier was born in Suriname in 1957 and grew up both in Suriname and the Netherlands. She decided to study the languages of her continent and in 1984 she graduated in Modern Spanish American Literature at Leiden University. Immediately after her graduation she went to live and work in Latin America, in Chile and Brazil in particular, where she, together with her husband Tjeerd de Boer worked during ten years. In those years she got involved in many grass-root projects, in the ‘poblaciones’ in Chile and the ‘favelas’ in Brazil. But she also worked for policymakers, at national and international level. She was an advisor to Jan Pronk, then the Dutch minister for development co-operation. This broad experience gave her insight in the complexity of development processes.
Even before returning to the Netherlands she was asked to become the General Secretary, or co-ordinator, of SKIN, the association of migrant churches in the Netherlands. She worked there for eight years, during which she put the new organisation on the agenda. Through public debate she contributed firstly to the general awareness of the presence of migrant Christians in the Netherlands ánd to the awareness that diversity can be a source of strength. For her work she was awarded by the migrant churches in the Netherlands with the Award for Godly Impact.
In 1999 she was invited by the women’s organisation of the Christian Democratic party, CDA, to participate in special meetings for migrant women. From there she got involved in an initiative of the then party leader to establish a centre for politics, religion and meaning. After that she was asked to be the vice-chair of the group that was to write the party’s political programme for 2002-2006. Then the women in the party asked her to become representative of the people and so she entered parliament in 2002.
During all those years Kathleen Ferrier has distinguished herself through respect and open mindedness towards everybody who comes her way. She developed leadership skills that enabled her to achieve her goals. In parliament she founded the one and only All Party Initiative in Dutch parliament, on HIV/AIDS and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. Within her party she developed a modern policy for development co-operation in which key points are promoting self-reliance through financial independence, more coherent policies and the vital role of sustainability in development. These visions are now generally adopted as basic for modern international co-operation. In 2011 the Mexican government distinguished her with the Águila Ázteca decoration.