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Press Statement by Maria Weber, Main Department "Women in the DGB," on the Working Woman and the Social Situation of the Family (August 30, 1960)

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Incorrect Assessment of Women’s Gainful Employment
It follows from the aforementioned facts that gainful employment for women is not only a temporary situation. The incorrect assessment of women’s gainful employment as a temporary situation is the cause of the clear discrimination against the woman that has existed up to now.

a) in occupational training:
This view is in many instances the reason why girls receive either no or insufficient occupational training, although they possess the necessary intellectual prerequisites for a qualified occupational training.

b) in pay:
Women’s income is frequently viewed only as supplemental income, and this is frequently the reason for inequitable pay and lesser compensation for women’s work;

c) in the physical aspects of the workplace:
In the construction of machines and work equipment, the physical constitution of women is given too little consideration.

The unions feel obliged to make sure that women are given the workplace that they deserve on the basis of their intellectual capabilities and handicraft skills, and not only in periods of emergency, not only in emergency service operations and in catastrophes. In these times, women have always proven that they are capable. Therefore, we assert a right to these workplaces in normal times and for the duration of the entire working life.

The Social Situation of the Family
For most women, however, the question is not whether she wants to work. She has to work and earn money,

a) because she is single
b) because she, through some special turn of fate, is the breadwinner for her family
c) because her husband’s income is insufficient
d) because the children should have a good occupational training

The unions regret that many mothers with small children are forced to work on account of material need, for the care of children by the mother cannot be valued highly enough.

But the mother also suffers from this. On top of this, she often suffers health problems on account of the double burden. Such mothers are easily condemned by outsiders.

Single mothers are absolutely not the target of such generalizations. But in many families, the mothers are also forced to contribute to the support of the family because the family income falls within the range of welfare recipients. The findings of a memorandum by the federal minister for families and of an investigation by the main department “Women in the DGB,” as well as other investigations, prove that it is untrue that – as is so often asserted – women work in order to buy luxury items.

Naturally, there are also women and mothers who work in factories and offices and who are not forced to do this out of material need. No outsider can pass judgment on why a woman works. It is doubtless very commendable when parents, for the sake of their children, voluntarily abstain from many things to which they also have a right. But there are also families where both parents work in order to give their children more. Therefore, they should not be subject to public defamation.

On the other hand, it is also desirable, if all organizations and institutions could make clear to the families, in the most compelling way and without any damaging assertions, how valuable having the mother at home is for the family and that material need should be the only compelling reason for mothers with small children to pursue gainful employment. However, by the same token, the Confederation of German Trade Unions must expect that all of these associations and institutions, which also feel responsible for women and families, should support their social-political demands, so that material need is no longer the reason why mothers with children pursue gainful employment.

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