Social Change and Welfare Programmes (1)

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  • Social Change and Welfare Programmes
    • Women in the GDR
      • According to the 1966 Family Code women were at the heart of the GDR. The GDR supported the traditional values of marriage and by 1970s the support for the family was extensive.
      • There was a marriage loan of 5000 Ostmarks and maternity leave was generous. Women with children were exempt from shift work and given extra paid holidays.
      • Kindergarten provision was extensive. However birth rates were still low, there was still high pressure on women with childcare, housework and work.
    • Divorce
      • Rates were high 30% of marriages ended after 9 years – many due to growing independence of women.
      • Single parents were also on the rise it was easier to do this because of the generous childcare arraignments and maternity benefits.
    • Employment
      • Women made up half the work force and they expected to have paid employment as women filled half the university places.
      • There were more female scientists in the GDR than FRG. Equal pay was real.
      • By the 1970s women who had known nothing but the GDR were confident in their roles and would accept nothing more than equal pay.
      • However they were missing from senior roles; less than a third of secondary schools had female head teachers. The SED denied any glass ceiling.
    • Politics
      • Women were far less represented than men in politics. At the top only 2/27 members of the Politburo were women.
      • Erich Honecker’s wife was Minister of Education from 1958 to the end of the GDR but never a member of the Politburo.
      • With the ageing male Politburo it seemed hard to believe they were interested in women’s rights. It was a double standard they were protecting women’s rights but did they really believe in it.
    • Female Expectations
      • Expectations of traditional roles persisted. An official encyclopaedia for women in 1987 focused on fashion, cooking and women’s health.
      • They did have a voice though as shown by the 1972 Abortion Law.
      • There was also free birth control and free contraception.
    • Women at Home
      • Fullbrook argues that polices were geared at making women more like men in the work place but it did not change women’s position at home.
      • Women were still doing the household chores and raising the children.
      • In work as cuts were made women were the first to lose their jobs and the generous childcare provision was cut.


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