Marja Bijl is a member of PES Women Executive since 2009 and has been elected Vice President of PES Women on 27 September 2012, she was re-elected in June 2015. She is a member of the Dutch Labour Party (PvdA) and member of its board since 2007. In 2014 she was elected by the congress as vice chair of the PvdA. She was President of the Rotterdam region of the Dutch Labour Party between 2006 and 2010.
In the PvdA Executive, Marja Bijl has been responsible for the recruitment of future members of Parliament, and for composing the lists of candidates. Her main responsibilities have been diversity, the PvdA women’s organization and permanent campaigning. For over a decade the PvdA did not have a proper organization.
Instead, women were organized in several networks. In 2010 Marja launched a new women’s organization, making it an important stakeholder within the party. Women Members of the Labour Party have fought for years for the so-called ‘zipper lists’ for candidates. This system has been under debate during the last party congresses. Because of hard work and lobbying of Marja and her colleagues, the 50 percent lists have been kept. Consequently, there is an equal representation of women and men from the Labour Party in the Dutch Parliament.
The PvdA has one vice chair which means that her current responsibilities in the board are linked with those of the party chair. On behalf of her party she holds a position in the board of the Progressive Alliance and therefore attends most meetings of the PA. In 2015 the PvdA organised in cooperation with PES, PES Women and the Progressive Alliance a conference in Rotterdam. This conference was completely organised around the theme ‘decent work and the gender aspect’ and resulted in an action plan ‘not just words, but deeds’.
In addition to her political work, Marja is managing director of an NGO that works in the social field with –among others- victims of trafficking. She has been working on the issue of trafficking since 1996, first as a therapist and after that in managing and policy-making roles. In these years the NGO dealt with approximately 400 women, both within and outside the shelter. She participates in many national networks and lobbies, trying to tackle the crime of trafficking. She is well known in the Netherlands as an expert on how to work with victims of trafficking and on forming local networks addressing this issue.