Women's Empowerment & Sexual Health: A Conversation with Lilianne Ploumen, Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation

Lilianne Ploumen was born in Maastricht, the Netherlands, on 12 July 1962. She holds Masters Degrees in Social History (1988) and Strategic Marketing Management (1992). In 1983, while still at university, Lilianne Ploumen became a community outreach worker in the Crooswijk area of Rotterdam. Two years later she joined the Institute of Psychological Market Research (IPM), working in the statistics department and as a research project leader. IPM focuses on research-based consultancy.

In 1995 she founded Ploumen Projecten, an organization specializing in market research and innovation for commercial and non-profit clients. In the same year she also began working as a fundraising coordinator for Mama Cash, an international fund supporting women's initiatives, going on to become director of the organization from 1996 to 2001. From 2001 to 2007 Ms Ploumen worked for the development organization Cordaid, first as head of quality and strategy and later as director of international programmes. She was Chair of the Labour Party (PvdA) from October 2007 to January 2012. On 5 November 2012 Lilianne Ploumen was appointed Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation in the Rutte-Asscher government. Lilianne Ploumen previously held the position of Vice Chair of the Evert Vermeer Foundation, and was a member of the Labour Party's South-North Committee (advising on international cooperation). She has also been a board member of feminist organisation Opzij and Women Inc. and member of the Stop Aids Now! supervisory board.

Lilianne Ploumen has always been a staunch supporter of women's empowerment and women's rights, including sexual and reproductive health and rights. She recently called for a global initiative (She Decides) in support of women deciding freely whether, when and how many children they want - as she feels this is a crucial investment in the life of women, which benefits their economic potential and society as a whole.

Moderator: Dr. Mary Ellsberg, Founding Director of the Global Women's Institute at George Washington University