Angela Merkel, Feminist?

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Sophie Jeffery, Staff Writer

As the chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel is undeniably the most powerful woman in the world. And with the worldwide issues of sexism and gender stereotypes taking root in people’s minds, Merkel is in the perfect position to promote feminism even further. However, even though Merkel doesn’t necessarily oppose feminist agendas, she never openly promotes gender equality either, and very rarely uses the word “feminist”. Even though she’s promised to keep a gender balanced cabinet if re-elected, it seems that the number of women in Parliament is bound to drop, anyway.

Mothers in Germany have historically had a bad reputation. A mother that stays home with her child is accused of not contributing to society through her work. In fact, only 12% of women with a child under 3 have a job, which shows how such a large portion of the population is discriminated against. On the contrary, a woman with a child who still works is considered a “raven” mother; one that pushes her children to grow up too quickly. Even women who are childless are viewed as cold people. It seems that no matter what German women do, they are criticized. Why does Merkel allow this to happen? Why doesn’t she stand up against these comments and make a change for the women in Germany so they can live in a life where they are supported?

Part of me thinks that maybe Merkel is just trying to treat everyone equally. If she actively joins the feminist movement, she could be seen as showing favoritism to women, when a part of her job is to create a just society. How would men and boys feel about their leader supporting women and somewhat ignoring men? Then again, German women are paid 21% less than men (the European average is 16%), and only 7% of the executive boards on Germany’s major trading companies consist of women. Out of the CEOs for 160 companies, only three are women. It seems that even though the one of the most powerful people in the country happens to be a woman, others find it impossible to follow Merkel down the path of leadership. Merkel should really encourage women to chase whatever dreams they have and not allow their gender to hold them back.

I believe that as the Chancellor of Germany, it is up to Merkel to set the morals for her country. If she believes that women should be able to live freely and have the support to do what they want, she has to say so. Maybe Merkel is too politically gun-shy to be vocal about feminism, but by being silent, she condones sexism. She embodies the phrase “girl power” just by being the lone female in the international political world, and she doesn’t seem to care. Does she realize that although she has a lot of power, that is doing nothing for the girls in her country? We all know that even from a young age, children have very black-and-white perceptions of what they are able to be, and what they are barred from. As the feminist movement continues to resonate across the world, a symbol is needed, and the perfect person to raise up as a role model refuses to offer her support on the issue.