No female catering staff at Nuclear Summit

Screens overhead display U.S. President Barack Obama as he speaks at the closing session of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague. (Reuters)

Where are all the women? Attending the Nuclear Summit currently ongoing at the Hague may leave you asking that very question as no female catering staff are working the room where the main talks are being held.

The controversial staffing decision, which has garnered backlash on social media, was made by the catering company which sought to create a “uniform” look amongst its staff, according to the company’s director, Hans van der Linde, who spoke to Dutch national newspaper the Algemeen Dagbla.

“If 20 gentlemen are serving and three platinum blonde ladies, then that spoils the image,” he said.

“The personnel needs to act in as reserved a manner as possible, and you can’t achieve that by adding a couple of pretty, conspicuous ladies to the mix,” he added.

Only men above the age of 25 will serve working lunches in the main room at the talks, which have brought together leaders from 53 countries to discuss ways of combating nuclear terrorism.

Jean-Paul Weijers, director of the Protocolbureau that is also involved in the summit, told The Independent that there may be other factors at play.

According to the newspaper, he believes the decision was made to prevent world leaders from getting distracted. “Everything is taken into consideration when organizing such an important gathering. That includes things like this,” he said.

The Twitter storm surrounding the decision has seen critics calling the decision “un-Dutch” and a violation of human rights, according to The Independent.

“Apparently the dudes we need to trust with NUCLEAR WEAPONS can be easily distracted by blonde servers,” wrote one Twitter user.

“There is so much wrong with this I'm really not sure where to start,” wrote another.

In a bid to clear the air, van der Linde spoke to Britain’s Radio 1 about the decision, saying he initially came up with “the creative idea to only employ ladies to serve the world leaders, and to have them do that in little Delft Blue dresses.” He added that the idea was rejected by The Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs before saying: “We also have to go up a very steep flight of stairs, so little dresses wouldn’t be practical, as you wouldn’t be able to lift your legs high enough.”

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:43 - GMT 06:43