Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Women's Day

Today, on March 8, the world celebrates Women's Day. Red Baron was reminded by an article in Freiburg's Amtsblatt (Official Journal) showing a poster of March 1914. The Frauentag was already celebrated at the evening of the Great War demanding the right to vote.

The right for women to vote in Germany eventually came in 1918 following total defeat in World War I and the transition from the 2nd Empire to the Republic of Weimar. Somehow we are proud for the USA introduced universal suffrage only in 1920 and the UK in 1928. France eventually followed in 1944 after the shock of World War II. In Germany the other side of the coin was that in the Weimar Republic the percentages of women voting Hitler and his party NSDAP were always higher than those of men.

Today there is still inequality between men and women, e.g., with respect to wages, the latter being payed less for doing the same job. While in the European Union the percentage of women in leading positions is only 33% this figure is even lower in Germany with 28%.

But let us not grumble but rather write about real women power. In 2012 German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were the world's most powerful women, according to Forbes magazine's annual survey.

I think the two ladies met at a talk show in Berlin in 2003 for the first time. Angela was chairwoman of Germany's strongest party, the Christian Democrats (CDU), and Hillary Senator of the State of New York. At that time Hillary was impressed how Angela managed the Boy's Club and predicted her a great future.

Hillary and Angela following the appearance on German television
 in Sabine Christiansen's political talk show (©dpa)
Ten Years later in 2013 when Angela was Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany and Hillary US Secretary of State they again met in Washington.

Shaking hands like men (©ap)

Both ladies were wearing trouser suits. In front of the microphones Hillary seems to pray
while Angela is trying to form her favorite rhombus (©Reuters)

Women at power, power women. What makes them different from men? During his professional life Red Baron had two female bosses and both were excellent leaders though I always felt a certain stubbornness in their leadership. Didn't Angela Merkel say with respect to the stream of refugees flooding Germany: Wir schaffen das (We will make it) and stay with her statement although of all the opposition? Wasn't Margaret Thatcher always insisting: I want my money back referring to the European Union? Wasn't Indira Gandhi prolonging the state of emergency in India several times from 1971 to 1975 defending her quasi-dictatorship: Not a dog barked?

It will be interesting to watch Forbes magazine's annual survey about the most powerful women in 2017: Will Hillary be the unchallenged number one and will Angela still figure on that list? For changing the guard in Germany another lady already is in her starting blocks: Ursula von der Leyen.

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