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In 16 years as German Chancellor, Angela Merkel is one of the few women in power in the world. But did she help advance the cause of the German women? According to her biographer, the Chancellor did not bring about major societal changes, but was content to accompany them. Still, for the Germans, Angela Merkel broke a glass ceiling.
First female chancellor, Angela Merkel did everything to make people forget that she was a woman, even going so far as to create a uniform: black pants and always the same model of blazer, available in different colors. The Chancellor has always refrained from highlighting her femininity and has always refused to become a symbol of the feminist cause.
In 16 years as Chancellor, Angela Merkel is one of the few women in power in the world, but has she contributed to considerable progress for the Germans?
Angela Merkel smashed a glass ceiling
She is the most powerful woman in the world, and a role model for many German women. In Prenzlauer Berg, the bobo district of Berlin where France 24 visited, we vote more on the left, but for these young women, who have become adults with the Chancellor, Angela Merkel has broken a glass ceiling. “She is a strong, sovereign woman who has been able to cope,” said one of them. “Just the fact that she became Chancellor has shown us that you can do anything as a woman.”
Today, more Germans are working, but the pay gap between men and women is 18%.
It was not until 2020 that Angela Merkel accepted a quota of women on the boards of directors of large companies. A mixed record, according to the Federation of German Women Entrepreneurs. “We would like women to be better represented in politics, society and business because it is an important pull factor”, explains Evelyne de Gruyter, President of the Federation of German Women Entrepreneurs (VdU). “More generally: when we compare the childcare system in France to that which we have in Germany, there is still work to be done.”
“This feminism that emerged in Western Europe has always been foreign to it”
First woman chancellor, Angela Merkel did not cause major societal changes, she was content to accompany them, according to her biographer. It was not until the very end of her term that she claimed to be a feminist.
“This feminism, which emerged in Western Europe and therefore in West Germany, has always been foreign to it”, explains Ursula Weidenfeld, author of the book “Die Kanzlerin”.
“She has often said that she did not want to brag about the merits of these women who have fought since the 1960s, when she herself had not participated in this struggle and these debates.”
Thus, if Angela Merkel has never put forward her femininity, nor her feminism, she will nevertheless remain an icon for many women around the world.