Social & Politics

The Women who make German Politics

Women in politics

Times are changing as more and more women are taking to high office around the world; the US Senate has just announced that a record 20 seats are now held by women, which is considered to be a real leap forward in what has always been a male domain.

Although Margaret Thatcher first took British politics by storm way back in 1979 by becoming the first western woman Prime Minister, considered to be the most powerful woman in the world and Regan’s number one ally, it has been a slow struggle for those women inspired by her and others to also move into the male dominated political world. Thatcher may have disappeared from the political scene but with politicians such as Hillary Clinton, Ang San Suu Kyi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel the role models are still here and women are in larger numbers taking up positions of power around the globe as they move into high office. Ranked the most powerful woman and female politician in the world, Germany’s Chancellor Merkel will once again this year have to fight for her right to run the world’s fifth biggest economy, as the European nation led by a woman, stands for re-election.

Social Democrat, Hannelore Kraft, who has governed North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous and industrious state, since 2010 could be a contender as she has been voted the third most popular politician after Ms. Merkel and Joachim Gauck, the German president. A German federal election scheduled to take place on 22 September 2013 will decide on just how many of the 598 members of the 18th Bundestag, the federal parliament of Germany, will be women.

Annkathrin Kammeyer (born 12 January 1990) is a German Social Democratic politician and has been a Member of the Hamburg Parliament since 2011. After winning her seat at the remarkably young age of 21 she became the youngest member of the Hamburg Parliament in its whole history.

As this year’s election moves closer a few of many other names to watch out for are Heide Simonis, Germany’s first female governor who has led the state of Schleswig-Holstein for twelve years, Malu Dreyer (SPD) the governor of Rhineland-Palatinate, Karoline Linnert (chairwoman of the Alliance '90/The Greens Bundestag parliamentary group) Senator of Finance and Mayor of the city-state of Bremen, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (CDU) Minister-President of Saarland in a grand coalition with the SPD and Renate Künast (chairwoman of the Alliance '90/The Greens Bundestag parliamentary group) who was the Minister of Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture from 2001 to 2005.

With a 24 ranking in the world list showing the percentage of women in government, the German parliament stands at 27.5% according to the Inter-parliamentary Union, which received data from national parliaments on 1st February this year. There are presently 19 women in the upper house out of 69 seats and 204 in the lower house out of 620 seats which is a high achievement at 32.9% beating the UK with only 22.6% in the upper house and 22.5% in the lower house. One quarter of all the German Bundesländer are now headed and steered by women. Female politicians, once a rarity alongside their suited male counterparts are in larger numbers, breaking down the doors and setting up office in what was once considered the old boys club.

Although more women are successfully moving into high office whether in government or in business women in Germany are still experiencing inequality, earning on average 22 percent less in salary than their male colleagues according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Developments latest report.

DLD co-chairwoman Ursula v.d. Leyen is Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, and has clear thoughts on how women need to be supported through legislation to keep pushing for a gender equal society. The topic of a women's quota is handled as a major debate for this year's election campaign. You can catch up on Ursula v.d. Leyen's ideas of a women's quota in this DLD session:

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Ursula von der Leyen
Federal Ministry of Defence
Minister of Defence
Federal Ministry of Defence