WOMEN IN GERMANY ISPR 270D-01 MONICA KEMPSKI

In a world of corruption, gender discrimination and violence, many women are denied of their rights. Germany is one of the many nations that have achieved great strides for the feminine sex. Politically, economically, and socially, German women have emerged as strong and independent beings. However, there is some corruption in regards to the treatment of women, but the government and the German women themselves are working to resolve these issues. Germany is located in the heart of Europe, bordering many countries. These countries include Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Demark, France, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, and Switzerland. With a population of 82,329,785 people covering 357,022 square kilometers, Germany is Europe¶s second most populous country, falling only behind Russia (Central Intelligence Agency). Germany is an industrialized nation in Europe. This is partly due to its federal republic form of government, where the federal government and several smaller governments divided by sixteen areas work together. Within this government, there is no state-established religion. Thus, people can practice any religion of their choice. The most popular religions are Protestant and Roman Catholic. (Central Intelligence Agency). Demographically, Germany is very balanced. The total life expectancy for the population is 79.26 years. However, males are expected to live slightly shorter lives than females at 76.26 years, as compared to 82.42 years. In Germany, the population is shrinking by .053 percent. This is due to the birth rate of 8.18 births out of every thousand people being lower than the death rate, which is 10.9 out of every thousand people. In each age group, there are almost even oneto-one ratios between men and women. Thus, there is evidence that there is no gender preference

that will reflect abortions of one particular sex when it comes to births (Central Intelligence Agency). Germany is excels socioeconomically. For instance, their education system has an extremely prosperous nature. In fact, they were one of the first countries to have a free education system. This free system extends to cover a person all the way through college. Originally, only men could attend college until 1899 when women gained access to higher education. In a 1899 New York Times article, a German Count is quoted saying, ³We have become a strong nation, enjoying great prestige abroad´ ("New York Times"). Education is prestigious today because literacy rates are extremely high. These rates stand at ninety nine percent for both men and women (Country Reports). These facts display that one sex is not discriminated against in education because both men and women can engage in an education if they so choose. Germany also shines socioeconomically because Germans are very healthy. Statistics show that there is an extremely low obesity rate, low percentage of smokers, and a high ninety percent immunization rate for all ages ("Nationmaster.com") The twentieth century was important to Germany¶s history. During this period, women progressed greatly in regards to their rights. In 1919, woman gained their suffrage. Then years later during World War Two, women emerged from the home and worked in place of the men who were fighting in the war. In addition, women became Trummerfrauen, where they were assigned to tend to the wounded, bury the dead, gather belongings, and clean up the rubble from the war. After the war, a divided Germany yielded different roles for women. In West Germany, an influx of immigrants made women unneeded in the workplace. These women returned to their role at the home. However, communist East Germany made it mandatory for women to work.

Since that time, women have shifted to the East German ideal, and are well represented in the workforce. Next, The Basic Law of 1949 officially declared all women equal to men. Finally in 1977, legislation was awarded to women for equal rights in marriage. With this law, a woman could file for a divorce without her husband¶s permission (Johnson Lewis). In this way, women become independent people. This law allows her to do not have to be bound to a husband who displeases her. She can make her own decisions and exercise her own free will. In the past decade, forty one percent of women have exercised this right to have a divorce (Seager,25). Thus, women have gained substantial area in marital rights. After the turn of the century in 2001, women gained the right to go into every unit of the German military. Before this, women could only serve as medical staff or in musical units (Seager,104). For the country¶s Human Development index, Germany stands at .947. The Human Development index is an un-weighted average of life expectancy, earned income, and education. With this outcome, Germany is considered a highly developed country. Germany¶s Gender Development index is .939, which is very close to its Human Development Index ("Human Development Reports"). This is a very good number for gender disparity, because the closer these numbers are to each other, the smaller the inequality between sexes. Thus, Germany has very little gender discrepancy. Germany¶s Gender Empowerment Measure is .852, or 85,2% ("United Nations Development Programme"). The Gender Empowerment Measure displays the amount of unequal opportunity for a country by measuring political participation, economic participation, and the power over economic resources ("Wikipedia"). Thus, this high percentage indicates that women are fairly represented in politics and economics.

Germany¶s equality between the sexes defiantly reflects their history, demographics and their indexes. However, there are still some contemporary issues today that account for the little inequality that women do have when compared to men. One contemporary issue in regards to gender is political representation. To immediately refute this as an issue, Angela Merkel was recently elected as chancellor of Germany in 2006 ("Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany"). Her position as chancellor is the ultimate seat in German politics. Amazingly, Merkel is one of six woman leaders in the world. Among her, the only countries with women leaders are Ukraine, Georgia, Liberia, Mozambique, Chile, and Argentina (Seager, 99). Despite this important distinction for Germany, there are not many German women politicians below her. For example, women make up only thirty two percent of the Budestag, which is the German parliament. Also, only eighteen percent of the judges on their Federal Constitutional Court are women. ("U.S Department of State ") On a smaller scale, only seventeen percent of women were mayors since 2000 (Seager, 99). In conclusion, a woman may have achieved the highest position in German politics, but she is a rarity. Gender inequality in the workplace is a major problem in Germany, and should be addressed. As seen before, the lack of German women in politics is part of the paramount issue of the gender discrimination that exists. Women in Germany are hardly ever in positions of leadership in their jobs. In fact, only twenty three percent of women are in the highest ranking position of their job. In addition, as a woman ages, she gets less and less of a chance to progress in her job. The Minister for Woman¶s Affairs in Germany explains that ³Up to the age of thirty, the career opportunities for men and women are nearly equal«the kink in the career chain mostly occurs with the birth of children´ ("Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany"). Thus, children serve as a barrier to a woman¶s progress in the workplace. German employers do

not want to compensate hours for a high powered woman to go home and take care of her children. In result, they simply will not promote women to a high position to avoid this problem. This is definitely an explicit example of discrimination against women. A major part of gender discrimination in the workplace is the wage gap. On average, women make twenty four percent less than men. This percentage computes to women earning about 643 euros less than men ("Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany"). This is one of the biggest gaps in the European Union (Plass C1). Because of this wage gap, women are implicitly encouraged to live by the traditional role of the ³three K words´ described in an old German saying: kinder (children), kirche (church), and kuche (kitchen) (Johnson Lewis).In this way, a woman becomes dependent on her husband, losing her potential economic status and power. According to a German Equality Commissioner, it will take until 2490 for equality between men and women in the workplace ("Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany"). Despite the wage gap and discrimination in the workplace, women in the modern day are emerging successful and strong for the battle to further their rights. A feminism film documenter notes, ³German feminism is one of the most active women¶s movements in Europe. It has gained access to television; engendered a spectrum of journals, a publishing house, and a summer woman¶s university in Berlin´ (Silberman). Surprisingly, abortion in Germany is not a huge debate like it is in the United States. Germany is mostly pro-life. A German bishop notes that ³The unborn life deserves and needs protection. The controversy is really only about how this protection is best achieved´ (Ferree , Gamson, Gerhards, and Rucht 27-33). Nonetheless, abortion still exists. A law in 1950 made

abortion legal during the first trimester (Johnson Lewis). Here, women are given their own rights to their body by allowing them to make their own decisions. In 1991, there were 125,000 registered abortions. This statistic was estimated to be very low, with actual abortions estimated to be about 250,000 (Johnson Lewis). More recently in 2003, eight thousand women had legal abortions. This statistic is very low compared to other nations (Seager,38). Thus, most women are increasingly becoming pro-life because of this huge decline in abortions. These women are not afraid to take action against the few abortions that are performed in the country.

Lesbian feminism is a giant political movement. The movement has extremely strong roots, dating all the way back to 1924 before Hitler. However, when Hitler came to power, homosexuals were discriminated against because they were forced to wear a pink triangle. Then, countless homosexuals were killed in his concentration camps (Meghan Burn 87). Today, 83% of Germans believe homosexuality should be accepted (Seager, 27). Also, same sex parings receive legal standing, but they do not have the same rights as heterosexuals. For instance, mothers who become lesbians cannot receive custody of their children (Meghan Burn 82). This law tends to be of great topic of protest with lesbians. This is definitely a great violation of rights because this is discrimination based on who a person is. These lesbians did nothing wrong, other than being who they are and are of no harm to their child. Finally, domestic violence is an alarming contemporary issue in Germany. Domestic violence involves many issues that exist between a man and a woman strip her of her rights. In Germany, four out of five women are victims of physical or sexual violence. In addition, there were 7511 documented cases of rape or sexual coercion in 2007. Finally, prostitution is legal in Germany ("U.S Department of State ").

The German government is trying its best to eliminate these issues. For instance, a law makes both rape and spousal rape illegal. In violation of this law, there are many punishments. These punishments include restraining orders, or payment to the abused woman. At the worst sentence, a man could spend as long as fifteen years in jail. For harassment in the workplace, the harasser will be dismissed from his job. Presently, an ongoing case in Germany involves a man who is being brought to trial for an honor killing. Here, he killed his sister because she was a prostitute and brought dishonor to the family ("U.S Department of State "). For additional protection besides the law, a female who is a victim of violence can enter a shelter. This process has been adapted by ever since 1976 (Seager, 29). These several actions by the government show that they have been making strides to obliterate all forms of violence against women. Germany can be considered a land of great opportunity for women. Throughout history, they have gained countless rights politically, socially, and economically. Presently, they are on the cusp of becoming completely equal to men despite major discrepancy in the workforce, and domestic violence. Any German woman should be proud of their country and their efforts to make themselves equal to men.

Works Cited "2008 Human Rights Report: Germany." U.S Department of State . 25 feb 2009. U.S Department of State:Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Web. 25 Jan 2010. <http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2008/eur/119081.htm>. Central Intelligence Agency, . "Europe:Germany." The World Factbook. 19 jan 2010. CIA Intelligence Agency, Web. 28 Jan 2010. <https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-worldfactbook/geos/gm.html>. "Europe>Germany>Health." Nationmaster.com. 2010. Nationmaster.com, Web. 28 Jan 2010. <http://www.nationmaster.com/red/country/gm-germany/hea-health&all=1>. Ferree , Myra Marx , William Gamson, Jurgen Gerhards, and Dieter Rucht. "abortion talk in germany and the united states: why rights explanations are wrong." University of California Press 1.2 (2002): 27-33. Web. 25 Jan 2010. <http://caliber.ucpress.net/doi/abs/10.1525/ctx.2002.1.2.27?cookieSet=1&journalCode=ctx>. "Gender Empowerment Measure." Wikipedia. 30 nov 2009. Wikipedia, Web. 28 Jan 2010. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_Empowerment_Measure>. "Gender empowerment measure and its components." United Nations Development Programme. 2009. United Nations Development Programme, Web. 28 Jan 2010. <http://www.undp.org.tr/publicationsDocuments/Table_K_from_HDR_2009_EN_Gender%20E mpowerment%20Measure.pdf>. Germany Literacy Rate of the Population CountryReports. CountryReports, 2010. Web 28 Jan. 2010.

"Human Development Report: Germany." Human Development Reports. 2010. United Nations Development Programme, Web. 28 Jan 2010. <http://hdrstats.undp.org/en/countries/country_fact_sheets/cty_fs_DEU.html>. Johnson Lewis, Jone. "Germany-Status of Women." Germany: A Country Study. Federal Research Division, 1995. Web. <http://womenshistory.about.com/library/ency/blwh_germany_women.htm>. Meghan Burn, Shawn. Women Across Cultures. 2nd ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2005. 87. Print. Plass, Sarah. "Wage Gaps for Women Frustrating Germany ." New York Times 03 Sep 2008: C1. Print.

Seager, John. The Penguin Atlas of Women in the World. 4th ed. New York,NY: Penguin Books, 2009. 99. Print. Silberman, Marc. "Film and feminism in Germany today, part 1." JUMP CUT. 2005. Jump Cut, Web. 25 Jan 2010. <http://www.ejumpcut.org/archive/onlinessays/JC27folder/FemFilmGermanySilbmn.html>. "Women in Germany." Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany n. pag. Web. 25 Jan 2010. <http://www.ottawa.diplo.de/Vertretung/ottawa/en/06/Lifestyle__culture/women__seite.html >. "WOMEN'S RIGHTS IN GERMANY.; They Will Be Allowed to Practice Medicine and Dentistry. ." The New York Times. 22 jan 1899. The New York Times, Web. 25 Jan 2010. <http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9400E5DB103BE631A25751C2A9679C94689 ED7CF>.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful