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Men, it's your turn!

June 21, 2017

Women in Germany work 50 percent more than men when caring for relatives is included, but they later get only half the pension. That’s one finding of a gender equality study to be discussed by the cabinet.

Deutschland Kindergarten in Hanau
Image: Reuters

Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition government declared gender equality to be an unfulfilled goal despite gains made in recent years as cabinet members prepared Wednesday to study a progress report.

"There is still a lot to do, that's evident," Family Minister Katarina Barley told public broadcaster ZDF when questioned about the report, which is required every parliamentary legislative period and is the second of its kind since 2011.

As progress, Barley cited Germany's introduction of a minimum wage in many fields, saying this had benefited women, as well as the increasing tendency of fathers to take subsidized parental leave to look after newborns.

Individuals must be free to decide how they wanted to live, Barley said, but it was up to parliament to create the framework conditions so that each "could really make decisions for her or himself," she added.

Women perform most caring tasks

According to the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, the study compiled by experts concludes that women and mothers still face "significant disadvantages."

Compared to men, women ended up with less pay and pensions, poorer career opportunities and faced time management problems in families and partnerships.

Relatives, particularly young and elderly family members, were still largely taken care of by wives, daughters or daughters-in-law, amounting to an overall work performance of one-and-a-half times that of men.

On retirement, women ended up with half the pension of men. Measured in hourly pay, women in Germany get 21 percent less.

Upgrading of nursing care

"One of my central objectives is an upgrading of social care professions. Here women will primarily profit," said Barley.

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Is caring for a car more valuable than caring for a kid?Image: Fotolia/jörn buchheim

"I have never understood why someone to whom I entrust my child or my dependent relative ends up earning so little compared to those to whom I entrust my car or my washing machine," she said.

"Our society still behaves unjustly in terms of the distribution of burdens and opportunities between the sexes," Barley told the Süddeutsche.

She was recently named minister after serving as general secretary of the center-left Social Democrats, who govern alongside Merkel's conservatives.

The equality report examines how far Germany has come in implementing equal opportunity precepts anchored in Germany's constitution.

ipj/sms (KNA, dpa, Süddeutsche Zeitung)