UN Commission on the Status of Women


Thomas Spedding

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Position Paper

Prepared by: Thomas Spedding

Country: Federal Republic of Germany

Committee: United Nations Committee on the Status on Women

Question of closing the pay gap worldwide

Historical Background: The economic rights and roles that women play in the German economy have gone through drastic and at times quite radical changes since the unification of the German Empire in 1871. Under the empire, Women had few rights under German Civil Law and could not obtain university educations till 1909, and could not participate in professional organisations such as unions, guilds or the various German bar societies effectively prohibiting women from any meaningful employment.

With the collapse of the Empire after First World War, came the for the time, incredibly liberal Weimer Republic whose constitution afforded and protected many academic rights to women including the right to educational equality, equality of opportunity for civil service appointments and perhaps most importantly equal pay to that of men in the professions.

Many of these gains were reversed by the Nazi’s who came to power in 1933. The Nazi’s encouraged women to play a more ‘traditional’ role as mothers and nurturers of the family especially in the lead up to the Second World War excluding them from mainstream economic participation.

At the conclusion of the Second World War, Germany was split into the Federal German Republic (West Germany) and the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). West Germany became a flourishing and prosperous liberal democracy with a very strong high tech manufacturing sector. While East Germany under a Communist and Statist system suffered. However, both governments had committed to the involvement of women in the workforce providing educational and economic opportunities to Women during the Cold War. Both governments signed and ratified a number of international agreements and treaties such as the International Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination ag...

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