The Future is Female – Reception at the Federal Chancellery of Germany in Berlin – Women shape East Germany and democracy

To mark International Women’s Day, Carsten Schneider, Minister of State to the Federal Chancellor hosted a reception at the Federal Chancellery. Under the title “Women shape East Germany. Women shape democracy.”, high-calibre guests discussed the strengthening of social cohesion and trust in democracy. In his welcoming speech, Minister of State Schneider emphasised the important role that women play in shaping East Germany and democracy. “Women are the main pillar of our society,” said Schneider. “They are the ones who strengthen cohesion in our cities and communities and are committed to peaceful and democratic coexistence, promoting democracy means promoting women.”  However, Women are missing in the east of the country in particular. Well-educated liberal women are leaving the rural regions for the cities. Men with little prospects for a successful future are being left behind. This shortage of women in rural regions in Saxony and Brandenburg is up to 25%, the east is masculinising which can contribute to further destabilising the region. The east of Germany is currently struggling with ever-increasing pressure from the right, much of which comes from men. While there are great efforts to support women in their communities, there is a lack of programmes to strengthen democratisation in men. 

Impulses and perspectives

The welcome address was followed by two keynote speeches. Reem Alabali-Radovan, Minister of State to the Federal Chancellor and Federal Government Commissioner for Migration, Refugees, Integration and Anti-Racism, spoke about the challenges and opportunities of integration in Germany. She also criticised the election campaign practices of right-wing parties, which often agitate against certain groups of people without any perspective. “You don’t campaign on the backs of the people”, emphasised  Alabali-Radovan. Anne Rabe, author and journalist, shed light on the role of the media in a democratic society.

Working together for social cohesion

In a moderated discussion, Reem Alabali-Radovan, Judith Borowski (Managing Director of Nomos Glashütte), Anne Rabe and Wiebke Sahin-Schwarzweller (Mayor of Zossen) discussed specific measures to strengthen social cohesion and trust in democracy. What they had in common was that they often had to reckon with threats and intimidation. Both verbally and physically. For Judith Borowski, it is clear that “companies can send a clear signal against the right” It was noticeable that in every speech it was mentioned again and again how important women are for the preservation of democracy. A recent study published by the Financial Times indicates that men are more likely to spread right-wing and anti-democratic ideas. What was not mentioned, however, was what needs to be done to prevent this shift to the right, especially among young men. The solution cannot be to provide only women with democratic education. Democracy needs to be tackled by society as a whole.  The central message of the evening was that the future of democracy lies in our hands and especially in the hands of women. Each and every one of us can make a contribution to strengthening cohesion in our society and maintaining trust in democratic institutions.
Almost 200 women from business, art and politics were present
At the end I also got to take a selfie with the Chancellor

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