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The Federal Executive Board of the Democratic Women’s League of Germany: Working Directive on the Law for the Protection of Mothers and the Rights of Women (November 6, 1950)

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Question: The subsidies for mothers with many children envisioned in the Law for Women are the cause of much rejoicing, but there is [also] a certain mistrust: “Will everything actually be carried out?”

Answer: Mistrust was appropriate in all capitalistic countries and also under Hitler Fascism, in which much is promised, but nothing is delivered. The government of our German Democratic Republic has proven that laws, decrees, and plans exist not only on paper, and that their implementation is guaranteed by the will and participation of all democratic forces. Our guided and planned economy creates the preconditions for the realization of the laws. Just as our motto “first produce, then live better” was correct and led to an improvement in our living standard, the enhanced participation of women is the precondition for the fulfillment of our Five-Year Plan and thus a precondition for the continuous improvement of our lives. Thus, by their participation, women themselves will contribute to realizing the Law for Women in all its aspects.

Question: Do the demands for more children not serve the same goals we already knew under Hitler?

Answer: Our minister president, Otto Grotewohl, said the following in his justification of the Law concerning the Protection of Mother and Child and the Right of Women: “There is no comparison between the population policy of Hitler and that of the German Democratic Republic. The Fascist population policy served war and the downfall, our population policy serves peace and prosperity.”

Question: How can we convince men that the work performed by women is of equal value?

Answer: Here, one must bear in mind that in every individual instance in which a woman is integrated into the work process, an ideological wall that protects old, inherited views must be torn down first. Partly among the women themselves, and also – to an even stronger degree – among the leadership of enterprise unions and the employment offices. It is clear that the will to work, and also the will to qualify for certain specialized work, is strongly present among women.

Our women in high positions, in leadership positions, our activists in the countryside and in enterprises have achieved things that cannot be valued highly enough. With this, we have proven that they are clearly able to assume positions of leadership and great responsibility. They grow along with the magnitude of the tasks assigned to them. It was through their work, as well, that our Two-Year Plan could be fulfilled ahead of schedule.

Oftentimes there is a lack of willingness in enterprises to hire women or train or retrain them.

The management of enterprises, the leadership of enterprise unions, and the employment office are obliged to help women in enterprises in which backward attitudes still exist, and to ensure that they become qualified and are developed.

Questions and answers that pertain specifically to individual paragraphs of the law.

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