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Article 3: Equality before the law

Family Minister Franziska Giffey: “Women can do everything. That is a fact and a demand.”


Franziska Giffey, 24.04.2019
Germany's Family Minister Franziska Giffey
Germany's Family Minister Franziska Giffey © Photothek

"All persons shall be equal before the law", declares Article 3 of the German Basic Law. And: "Men and women shall have equal rights." The four mothers of the Basic Law fought hard for this second sentence. It was also a woman who helped it gain significance: Erna Scheffler, the first woman judge on the Federal Constitutional Court. In 1953 she participated in the basic decision that wife and husband should have equal rights in marriage and family life. She annulled the husband's privilege of having the last word in disagreements.

All persons shall be equal before the law.
Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany, Article 3

The consequences of these decisions were changes in marriage, family and labour law that have made the lives of many women better. Women have had the vote since 1919. Since the 1970s, they have had the right to work without the consent of their husbands. Finally, in 1994, the second paragraph of Article 3 was added; since then it has been the task of the state to ensure actual equality.

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Until equality is achieved in all areas of life, we still have a fair bit of work ahead of us: on average, women earn 21 percent less gross hourly wages* than men. They are rarely found in leadership positions. And 40 percent of all women in Germany have experienced physical or sexual violence. I want to change that, and do what I can to make this happen.

* unadjusted gender pay gap

I work for real equality, for women and men, everywhere.
Germany's Family Minister Franziska Giffey

I say: women can do everything - that is both a fact and a demand. For women actually to be able to do everything, the basic conditions must be right. To achieve this, we are working with the law on equal participation of women and men in management positions and the pay transparency act. I contend against violence against women: with a roundtable, together with federal states and municipalities, I want to provide a secure and permanent financial basis for women's shelters, shelter apartments and outpatient services for women who have suffered violence. And I am committed to the upgrading of the social professions: no more school fees, training allowance, better pay and working conditions. 5.7 million people work in this sector; 80 percent are women. They work in day care centres, hospitals, nursing wards and hold our country together.

As Federal Minister of Women, I want to implement Article 3, no more, but no less. I work for real equality, for women and men, everywhere.

Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany, Article 3

(1) All persons shall be equal before the law.

(2) Men and women shall have equal rights. The state shall promote the actual implementation of equal rights for women and men and take steps to eliminate disadvantages that now exist.

(3) No person shall be favoured or disfavoured because of sex, parentage, race, language, homeland and origin, faith, or religious or political opinions. No person shall be disfavoured because of disability.



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