Germany′s CDU admits to sexism within the ranks | News | DW | 25.09.2016
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Germany's CDU admits to sexism within the ranks

A member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party has admitted that it has a problem with sexism. The admission comes after a female politician publicly complained about chauvinistic male behavior behind closed doors.

This week's complaint by a female German politician about sexist comments made by male lawmakers was not an isolated incident, and there needed to be reform, a senior party member said Sunday.

"I hear about stories like these again and again, but without names. That makes it hard to do anything about it," CDU General Secretary Peter Tauber (pictured above) told the mass-market newspaper "Bild am Sonntag." "We need a new sensitivity in all areas of society, because sexism is not just a problem in politics."

Berlin CDU politician Jenna Behrends grabbed headlines in Germany earlier this week after speaking out against what she described as gender discrimination within her own political party.

The 26-year-old city-state government lawmaker said senior party members called her belittling pet names in front of colleagues and asked her inappropriate questions about her sex life.

Speaking to the "Berliner Morgenpost," she said she was aware her accusations could torpedo her future chances as a politician. "It's all the same to me if I make a party-political career," Behrends said in remarks published Sunday. She later told "Bild" that she's received a lot of support since coming forward.

Jenna Behrends CDU politician

Jenna Behrends said a fellow lawmaker called her a "big sweet mouse" in front of others, among other complaints

Merkel attacks 'glass ceiling' in boardrooms

Since 2000, the CDU has been led by Merkel, who shattered party conventions when she, as a childless Protestant woman from the former communist East, became the party's leader. Under her leadership, the CDU won elections in 2005, and she became chancellor after a long line of men from Roman Catholic backgrounds hailing from western Germany.

As Germany's first female chancellor, Merkel has been outspoken against male-dominated corporate culture in Europe's largest economy. "It is pathetic that in more than 65 years of the Federal Republic of Germany, it was not possible for the Dax-30 companies to get a few more women on supervisory boards on a voluntary basis," Merkel told German business magazine "Wirtschaftswoche" in remarks published Sunday.

She cited the quota introduced this year requiring Germany's biggest companies to fill at least 30 percent of their supervisory board seats with women. She said it was unfortunate that German executives need to be strong-armed into implementing gender diversity.