Is Merkel leaving German women behind as she rises to the top?

Stephen Greenblatt  gives an interesting perspective on the way we, as humans, understand culture. He speaks on the notion that culture is a concept that constraints us within society’s social norms, but when challenged, it allows for a movement to occur. When these social norms in culture are challenged, it stirs up riots, revolution, and social uplifts that push us forward into a new direction. Thus, a birth of a new culture; this is the circle of life.  He offers another intriguing concept he discusses when analyzing culture in literature and art.  In order to understand the literature or art’s culture you must have an idea of the context in which it is written or created. Deeper exploration into a particular culture will lead to a heightened understanding of the context in which the literature or art was produced. This calls for background knowledge and research.

For Stephen Greenblatt article, click here 

After reading Stephen Greenblatt’s article about culture, it gave me insight in how I should analyze the German political cartoonist (Rainer Hachfield) cartoon featuring German Chancellor Angela Merkel in an unusual way. She has a somewhat angry face with her fist pounding to a table as a heart necklace wraps around her neck and it the heart is a picture of her and Francois Hollande— current President of France. Behind her are posters and signs written in German stating, “minimum salary, quotas for women, and no party whip.”

Angela Merkel and François Hollande celebrated 50 years of Franco-German friendship this September 23 in Ludwigsburg. A brief respite for the Chancellor as she faces several difficult domestic policy issues.

Rainer Hachfield is a German playwright and political cartoonist that worked with the socialist daily Neues Deutschland 

Now when I first looked at this political cartoon, it made no sense to me. I didn’t understand what the message Hachfield was trying to get across so I had to do some searching of the questions that were running through my mind. Luckily the cartoon had a caption stating who the figures in the picture were, and with Google translate, I was able to find the meaning of the words on the signs.

  • kein fraktion zwang: no fractional forced
  • frauen-quote: female ratio
  •  mindest- lohn: minimum wage

My first question: Who is Angela Merkel, and what is her relation to Germany?

German Chancellor, Angela Merkel

Forbes list ranksAngela Merkel as No. 1 most powerful women in the world, and has earned the name the “Iron Lady”. She assumed office as the first lady Chancellor of Germany in 2005 as a candidate of the Christian Democratic Union, the second largest poltical party in Germany. She stands on the notions of emphasizing “Christian understanding of humans and their responsibility toward God.” She is often considered conservative on cultural, social, and moral issues, and advocates a social market economy. She plays a crucial role in the European Union managing the financial crisis at the European and international level.

Chancellor Angela Merkel states in the Economic Times, We have the duty to do as much as possible for domestic demand in Germany so that we can give… a significant growth push to the eurozone,”

 This meaning all European countries will have the same currency.

 My second question: Who is Francois Hollande? He is the current President of France and is the first Secretary of the French Socialist Party. As I familiarize myself with the platform socialists stand on, these politician stand for social movements to reform social issues of a country. They have a liberal view on the way things should run in a country compared to the conservative Christian Democratic Union.

These two leaders stand on opposite political spectrum’s in their own country, but they can agree on one thing. Merkel and Hollande marked their unity on the issue regarding Greece bailout.


Merkel and Hollande as they make a visit to Greece together.

We want, I want, Greece to be in the eurozone, it’s a desire we have expressed since the start of the crisis. It’s up to the Greeks to make the effort that is essential for that goal to be met,” said France’s Socialist president, standing alongside Merkel.

The Greece potential bankruptcy issue is an entirely separate issue that needs to be address, but Hachfield shows in his cartoon picture that Merkel is turning her back on the critical social issue at home in Germany while sharing bon bons with Hollande.

Current issue on quota of women in business

 German women in the workplace only make up 3 percent of the leadership and executive positions held in German corporate businesses. With this stubby percentage, German women are not satisfied and feel this social inequality needs to be addressed and revised. Businesswomen want to work for companies in which they have the opportunity to advance in and hold higher positions to reflect their growth in the company. Men in the companies are moving ahead while women stagger behind.

 Women in Charge: The Female Quota: Video

The Christian Democratic Union stands divided over the country’s need for a legal quota German businesses must maintain with women in leadership or if it should be the decision of the leaders of the the company. This will be a big topic of debate when it comes down to the German 2013 elections.  Upper legislative chamber, representing 16 German states, is demanding for a mandatory quota for women on companies supervisory boards. Now the decision is in the hand of the lower house, in which Angela Merkel coalition controls, and they are currently divided on the situation.

As a woman I am bias to the situation, because I believe women should have the opportunity to hold leadership positions in a company. The same issue woman deal with in America. I don’t believe Chancellor is purposely turning her back on the social inequalities that is occurring Germany. As a woman I don’t think she would not want women to have the same chance to move up in society as she did.

 Another Rainer Cartoon:

Rainer Handshake Friendship

 What do feel about the cartoon? Is this an accurate depiction of the current issue and how Angela is addressing social equality for women in Germany? Is she really turning her back on the important domestic issues in Germany as she focuses on keeping an old friendship strong with France? I would love to here your comments. 

Video of Gaulle speech that brings unity of France and Germany: