“300 years until we achieve genuine equality”
Women and men are often treated unequally at work. We discussed the subject with an equal opportunities officer.
Gabriele Wenner heads the City of Frankfurt’s department for women – with twelve employees it is one of the largest in Germany. An educationalist, Wenner has worked in this role since 2002.
Ms Wenner, how long has Germany had equal opportunities officers, and what do they do?
The first equal opportunities office was set up in Cologne in 1982 with a view to promoting equal opportunities for women in the workplace and in society. Equal opportunities officers are to be found in official authorities, social institutions, municipalities and larger companies. Article 3 of the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany states that all persons are equal, and that men and women have equal rights. The role of equal opportunities officers is enshrined in the Federal Equality Act. We look at where women work and where they are underrepresented so that we can foster and support them particularly in such cases.
Which problems do working women in Germany face?
One major issue is reconciling work and family life: many women want to work part-time so that they can raise their children or take care of family members. In many cases, however, this leads to poverty in old age. A man in Frankfurt receives an average pension of 1,000 euros, whereas a woman receives only 660. Sexual harassment at the workplace is also a problem.
What are you particularly proud of?
For many years, we had a woman who headed the Highways Department here at Frankfurt City Hall – she retired recently. Everyone should be free to pursue the profession of their choice.
Do you believe that your job will one day become superfluous?
I would be delighted if so, and that is what we are working towards every day. However, if things continue as they have been, it will take at least another 300 years until we achieve genuine equality.