Die Schnecke Fortschritt kriecht rückwärts - das Zweite Gleichberechtigungsgesetz

Translated title of the contribution: A snail called progress retreats - the 2nd Equal Treatment Act

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This article criticises the so called 2nd Equal Treatment Act, which was one of the first pieces of legislation promoted by Angela Merkel, who started her political career as the ministry for women's affairs. The title "Second Equal Treatment Act" allures to the "Equal Treatment Act" of 1957, which lifted openly discriminatory provisions in West-German family and criminal law, but left a number of provisions in place that were ridiculed in the Eastern part of Germany. These included the right of a husband to give notice to his wife's employer, the obligation of single mothers to subject to the authority of a statutory warden for their children, and the criminalisation of abortion. The "Second Equal Treatment Act" did not address these issues (though they were addressed, the first one in the 1970s, the other two after German Reunification in the 1990s). Instead, its largest part only addressed public services at federal levels. Mimicking (though in a weaker form) legislation at state levels, it demanded that ministries wrote women's promotion plans, carefully avoiding any individual rights for women to be derived from these plans. Also, ministries should install women's officers. This legislation was much more cautious than legislation at state levels, which introduced positive action in favour of women, mainly through preference rules, but - in the case of Hessen - also through real quotas for academic qualification positions in universities and vocational training posts. In contrast to the regional legislators, the federal legislators could also have introduced positive action for the private sector. This was not Merkel's aim. Instead, the act slightly reformed the insufficient response of Germany to EU (then EC) sex discrimination law, bringing the legislation slightly closer to fulfilling its demands. The article criticises that not even full compliance with Community sex discrimination law is achieved, let alone any substantive steps taken to effective equality in employment for women and men.
Translated title of the contributionA snail called progress retreats - the 2nd Equal Treatment Act
Original languageGerman
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages14
JournalSTREIT feministische Rechtszeitschrift
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1995


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