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Speech by GDR Minister President Otto Grotewohl: "For the Happiness of Our Mothers and Children" (September 27, 1950)

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The so-called Basic Law of the Bonn puppet state also claims that men and women are equal. But the reality is different. Women are already discriminated against because they do not have the same job training opportunities, and because they do not receive the same pay as men. Moreover, the Bonn colonial regime also denies women the equality under family law to which they are entitled. While the so-called Basic Law solemnly proclaims equality in its first articles (Article 3), in its concluding provisions (Article 117), it explicitly states that contrary laws can remain in force until March 31, 1953, and they are therefore still applied today. Thus, the conditions in West Germany once again confirm August Bebel’s statement that the liberation of women is possible only in a true democracy.

With the founding of the German Democratic Republic, a completely new situation was created in this part of Germany, especially in the area of family law. It is therefore necessary to enact a new family law. The present Law on the Protection of Mothers and Children and the Rights of Women, in Article 18, charges the Ministry of Justice with this task. That ministry is to accelerate its work so that the government will be able to submit the bill to the People’s Chamber this very same year.

All professions are open!

With regard to Section III, “Women in manufacturing and the protection of their work,” I repeat what I have already stated. Without the incorporation of women into economic life on the basis of equality, there is no social equality. This gives millions of women the possibility to shape their lives in accordance with their own desires and will, and to use work to achieve a position of their own within society. In principle, all professions and jobs should be made accessible to women. The prejudices against women’s employment that still exist in many instances must be vigorously counteracted.

If we look at the conditions in the capitalist states or in West Germany and West Berlin, which are occupied by these capitalist states, we can see that, despite formal gender equality, large disparities in pay still exist. Women receive much lower wages for the same work. For example, in West Germany, the average wage for men in March 1950 was 134.0 Pfennigs per hour, while the average wage for women was only 86.1 Pfennigs. That is only 66 percent of the normal wage.

With the slogan “Women belong in the home,” women are prevented from being trained as skilled workers and are thus excluded from leading positions in the state and the economy. The same slogan is used in response to the question of “double earners,” and women are thereby denigrated as men’s maids.

But as long as women do not have the option of acquiring the theoretical and practical knowledge needed to occupy leading positions in the state and the economy, political and economic equality is out of the question.

The government of the German Democratic Republic has therefore decreed that when it comes to drawing up plans for the next generation, the preferential incorporation and training of women in all skilled professions should be established. State-owned enterprises must provide on-the-job training for women in accordance with the plan, and they must train them to become skilled specialists. Through instruction by uniquely qualified specialists and trainers, through courses and work counseling, women are to be trained to carry out tasks ranging from the simple to the complicated all on their own. Scholarship funds to enable attendance at professional courses and technical schools must be made available to women to a much greater extent than they have been [up to now]. The appointment of proven, democratically-minded women to leading positions must be undertaken more boldly and to a much broader extent. The accomplishments of women entrusted with tasks of responsibility – I am thinking here of our female mayors, directors in enterprises, and female functionaries in organizations and administrations – have demonstrated that women certainly have the requisite ability, and that they grow along with the magnitude of their tasks.

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