May 23, 2009
Last week I was at an event on women in politics held in the Hungarian Embassy in Berlin by the German Social Democratic Party (SPD), titled “More SPD for Europe”. I was joined there by SPD Chairman Franz Müntefering, a true working class hero who represents the very best of the German left, and Dagmar Roth-Behrendt, a great campaigner for women’s rights in the European Parliament who is standing for reelection on June 7th. It was an excellent event: not only because there was great saxophone player providing music, but also because it showed that more SPD for Europe will certainly mean a better deal for women. Both Franz and Dagmar spoke of the integral relationship between social justice and gender equality. As Franz said, achieving a better gender balance in traditionally ‘male’ or ‘female’ jobs is key to closing the pay gap. He pointed out that traditionally ‘female’ jobs, such as care work, are underpaid, so working towards a better gender balance in all sectors will help boost pay across the board.
What’s more, today is the day of the German Presidential election, and the SPD are running a woman candidate, Gesine Schwan. Gesine is supported by both the SPD and the Greens, has very strong credentials, and I for one am whole-heartedly supporting her for the post. In particular I value her modern views on the family; she has written at length about families as the building blocks of society, arguing that traditional stereotypes surrounding ‘the family’ need to be overcome and that gender equality has to play a central role. This is a women who understands modern life and society, a woman who would make a great figurehead for Germany. So my message to the SPD is this: you are up in the polls, the chance is there, so let’s make this ‘Super Election Year’ in Germany the year the SPD stormed to victory in the European, national and Presidential elections. It’s time for a Bundespräsidentin!