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German History in Documents and Images
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Training Course for Women (1962)
The GDR constitution of 1949 provided for legal equality between men and women; it explicitly repudiated regulations standing in the way of women’s emancipation and decreed that women had a right to equal pay for equal work. In the GDR, the economic emancipation of women was supposed to form the very basis of social equality. Therefore, the government supported and promoted women’s employment, which was not the case in the Federal Republic. While the GDR’s stance reflected an ideology of equality, it was also informed by an acute labor shortage that presented certain economic imperatives. In 1962, women represented 44% of the total labor force in the GDR; in the Federal Republic, they accounted for 33.5%. The photograph features participants in a women’s apprenticeship program at the East German State Railways Workshop in Schöneweide (East Berlin). They are shown at a drill station. Photo by Hildegard Dreyer.