The Guardian, September 3, 2012
Germany‘s top-selling women’s magazine is considering abandoning its use of amateur models barely two years after deciding to banish professional ones.
The fortnightly Brigitte hit the headlines in 2009 when it said it would feature only “real women” in its pages, part of a backlash against the use of ultra-thin professional models in fashion.
However, the magazine is reported to have found working with amateur models a challenge and the move has done nothing to increase sales.
Now, with Stephan Schäfer taking over at the helm as co-editor-in-chief alongside Brigitte Huber, the magazine is reconsidering the policy.
Read More: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/sep/03/magazine-reversing-ban-professional-models
GlobalPost, July 3, 2012
BERLIN — The German military is changing. What was once a male bastion has slowly been taking on a more female hue, with women accounting for almost one in 10 of those serving in the armed forces.
Now the military, or Bundeswehr, says it wants to see even more women in its ranks. “Currently 9 percent of all soldiers are women,” Chief of Staff Volker Wieker told Bild am Sonntag recently. “Our goal is a combined ratio of 15 percent.”
To achieve that, the army intends to make itself more attractive to female recruits, in particular by improving family-friendly structures. Yet problems persist. Continue reading
GlobalPost, May 6, 2012
BERLIN — It’s been a rough few weeks for Kristina Schroeder.
Already under fire for her plans to introduce a new subsidy for stay-at-home moms, as well as her adamant refusal to enforce gender quotas in companies, the German minister for family and women has published a controversial book that has galvanized her critics.
“Danke, emanzipiert sind wir selber!” (“Thanks, we’re emancipated ourselves!”) has been heavily criticized by the media and opposition politicians. In it, the minister claims that feminist roles are as oppressive as traditional ones.
Several prominent politicians and women’s groups are now supporting a campaign calling for the minister to start representing their interests or step down.
“We feel unrepresented by the minister responsible for women and family policies,” states an open letter which will soon be delivered to the minister.
“Kristina Schroeder leaves us to deal with our structural problems alone and dismisses them as individual problems.”
The letter, which appears on the website NichtMeineMinisterin! (Not My Minister!) , was initiated by the Green party’s Berlin branch and is supported by the feminist blog Mädchenmannschaft, the women’s rights group Terre Des Femmes as well as the Pirate Party and the Social Democrats’ women’s organization. Since it was launched two weeks ago, it has gathered close to 23,000 signatures. Continue reading
GlobalPost, April 9, 2012
BERLIN — Should parents who don’t opt to send their kids to state-funded childcare be compensated financially?
That is the crux of a debate that is currently raging in Germany.
The so-called “Betreuungsgeld” or child-care subsidy, which the government plans to start paying out next year, has already been attacked by opposition politicians, academics and industry for being bad for both mothers and kids.
Now, however, even members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition are questioning the wisdom of such a project — particularly after it emerged that the costs will be far higher than originally calculated.
Family Minister Kristina Schroeder is working on the draft legislation. As currently envisaged, parents who chose to keep their kids home instead of sending them to kindergarten will receive 100 euros ($131) a month for 1-year-olds in 2013. That would then increase to 150 euros ($197) for 1- and 2-year-olds the following year.
The coalition government agreed to the measure under pressure from the conservative Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU). Critics say the subsidy simply panders to conservative voters who object to other government plans to extend childcare, regarding it as a threat to conventional family structures. Continue reading
GlobalPost, March 23, 2012
BERLIN, Germany — On average, it will take a German woman until March 23 to earn as much money as a male counterpart earned last year.
That is the extent of Germany’s alarming gender pay gap.
Women’s organizations will be marking the date, dubbed Equal Pay Day, with some 150 events, including podium discussions, film screenings and flash mobs, to try to highlight the fact that, on average, German women earn about a fifth less than men.
They got some heavyweight backing for their cause earlier this month, when the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development berated the country for having a 21.6 percent wage gap, the highest in Europe.
In fact Germany’s own figures put the disparity higher — at 23 percent.
“In no other European country is the wage gap between men and women so strong as in Germany,” the OECD wrote in its report.
It also pointed out that women occupy only 4 percent of top corporate jobs in Europe’s economic powerhouse. In Sweden and France the proportion of women serving on company boards is between 15 and 20 percent, and in Norway, which has introduced a mandatory gender quota, it is close to 40 percent. Continue reading
Many European countries are now looking to emulate Norway’s quota for female board members, introduced first in 2004. A new report takes a look at the effects of that legislation six years on and concludes that many of the original arguments against the measure have not been borne out.
When Norway introduced tough new laws back at the beginning of 2004 aimed at increasing the number of women on company boards, the naysayers said it would lead to disaster. Companies would be forced to appoint less-qualified people as board members just because of their gender, and there would be widespread resentment among male colleagues and business owners.
Six years after the introduction of the 40 percent quota, the great debate the law unleashed has died down completely. The quota has been successful and has gained broad acceptance. What is more, the caliber of women on company boards is just as high if not higher than their male counterparts. But this has only been achieved because, after a period of voluntary compliance that yielded few results, the government introduced tough sanctions for companies that failed to implement the quota. Continue reading