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Zuhal Demir graduated from the KU Leuven in law and then gained a Master’s in Social Law at the VUB. From 2004 to 2013 she worked as a lawyer in labour legislation in Antwerp.
No half measures
In 2010 Zuhal Demir gained a seat in the Chamber, where she became the N-VA’s labour market specialist. In that role she homed in on themes such as social dialogue, well-being at work and a good balance between rights and obligations. “No half measures” is Zuhal Demir’s motto. She is not one to rest on her laurels and so, in 2013, she also became mayor of the district of Antwerp, the largest city in Flanders. In 2016 she moved back to her home town of Genk in Limburg to care for her ailing mother together with her brothers and sisters.
An ethnic nationalist with her own story to tell
Zuhal Demir has Turkish-Kurdish roots. Her father came to Flanders in the 1970s to work in the mines. As a result of that background a bond quickly formed with the ethnic nationalism of the Flemish movement. That same background taught her that it is also possible for people from various different origins to live together in harmony. Until her appointment as Secretary of State, Zuhal Demir was also President of the Board of Directors of the Agentschap Integratie en Inburgering, the Flemish integration and civic orientation agency. And indeed she believes in active civil orientation as a basis for the integration of newcomers. Bringing people together is a priority for Zuhal Demir.