.
F

ifteen years and four terms later, Angela Merkel is nearing the end of her incumbency as Chancellor of Germany. Merkel holds the title of Germany’s first woman and second longest-serving Chancellor. Having grown up in East Germany during the Cold War, Merkel obtained a doctorate in quantum chemistry and entered politics in the wake of the Berlin Wall’s fall, where she scaled the ranks and accepted the role of Germany’s Chancellor in 2005. Many view Merkel as a symbol of stability, and her ratings remain exceptionally high. Merkel inspires women by being untraditional, accomplished, and unafraid to work with the world’s most powerful people. She is a leader who has done a great deal to help move gender politics forward. Many people call Merkel a reluctant feminist because she does not explicitly label herself as one. However, as Wendy Sherman said, Merkel “is a feminist by example and by asserting the right to be at the table and lead at the table.”  

Merkel rarely emphasizes her gender, preferring to label herself a leader of all people. She said, “I’m not just the federal Chancellor of women in Germany; I’m the Federal Chancellor of all people in Germany.” Though she has sought to direct attention away from her gender, Merkel’s accomplishments and leadership as the first woman Chancellor of Germany cannot be ignored. She wins acclaim from a wide swath of Germans regardless of gender, which is particularly notable as German politics typically focuses on parties rather than personalities. Merkel is a feminist because she fights for gender equality, rising above common misrepresentations of feminism that assume a feminist must privilege one gender over another.

Among the many accomplishments of Merkel’s career is the impact she has had on gender politics. Germany’s government under Merkel implemented requirements for corporate boards to apply a 30% quota for women and expanded support for women’s professional skills in developing countries. Merkel’s first Grand Coalition adopted the “General Equal Treatment Act” in 2006 and created a federal office to monitor discrimination. She expanded parental leave and child-care guarantees and sponsored the “Chefsache” initiative to make gender balance a top management priority. Merkel has contributed more to gender equality in Germany than all previous Chancellors combined.

Politics is a field traditionally dominated by men. Merkel’s long-standing and remarkable success as a leader in German politics is a powerful inspiration for women everywhere. She was ranked the world’s most powerful woman by Forbes in 2020. Research shows that visible, successful female leaders like Merkel empower women's leadership behaviors, helping to usher in the next generation of female leadership. Additionally, female politicians and leaders make women and adolescent girls want to be more politically active. Women look to Merkel, and they can see new possibilities for themselves and others like them to hold positions of authority. Merkel herself said, “nobody laughs anymore if a girl says she wants to become a Chancellor.” Angela Merkel, then, is a feminist also because she empowers women and shows that they can hold positions traditionally unavailable or rare for them. 

More than anything, Merkel is a feminist because she exemplifies the potential for women in the context of our sexist society. Role models like her inspire women facing a host of challenges and obstacles in society. She advances gender politics while building approaches of gender equality. Merkel asserts her right to be and lead at the leadership table traditionally led by men. As declared feminist and fellow woman leader Christine Lagarde said, Merkel embodies a “spirit of courage and leadership.” Angela Merkel is a feminist because her courage and leadership provide an example for women on the journey for gender equality.

About
Whitney DeVries
:
Whitney DeVries is a Diplomatic Courier correspondent currently pursuing a master’s degree in International Affairs and Global Enterprise at the University of Utah.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.

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Angela Merkel Is a Feminist by Example

Angela Merkel, Federal Chancellor of Germany captured after the session 'Revitalizing Global Trade' at the Annual Meeting 2011 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 28, 2011. Copyright by World Economic Forum | swiss-image.ch/Photo by Sebastian Derungs.

March 8, 2021

Angela Merkel's long and extraordinarily successful tenure as Germany's first female Chancellor cements her place as an impactful feminist, despite her reluctance to claim the title for herself.

F

ifteen years and four terms later, Angela Merkel is nearing the end of her incumbency as Chancellor of Germany. Merkel holds the title of Germany’s first woman and second longest-serving Chancellor. Having grown up in East Germany during the Cold War, Merkel obtained a doctorate in quantum chemistry and entered politics in the wake of the Berlin Wall’s fall, where she scaled the ranks and accepted the role of Germany’s Chancellor in 2005. Many view Merkel as a symbol of stability, and her ratings remain exceptionally high. Merkel inspires women by being untraditional, accomplished, and unafraid to work with the world’s most powerful people. She is a leader who has done a great deal to help move gender politics forward. Many people call Merkel a reluctant feminist because she does not explicitly label herself as one. However, as Wendy Sherman said, Merkel “is a feminist by example and by asserting the right to be at the table and lead at the table.”  

Merkel rarely emphasizes her gender, preferring to label herself a leader of all people. She said, “I’m not just the federal Chancellor of women in Germany; I’m the Federal Chancellor of all people in Germany.” Though she has sought to direct attention away from her gender, Merkel’s accomplishments and leadership as the first woman Chancellor of Germany cannot be ignored. She wins acclaim from a wide swath of Germans regardless of gender, which is particularly notable as German politics typically focuses on parties rather than personalities. Merkel is a feminist because she fights for gender equality, rising above common misrepresentations of feminism that assume a feminist must privilege one gender over another.

Among the many accomplishments of Merkel’s career is the impact she has had on gender politics. Germany’s government under Merkel implemented requirements for corporate boards to apply a 30% quota for women and expanded support for women’s professional skills in developing countries. Merkel’s first Grand Coalition adopted the “General Equal Treatment Act” in 2006 and created a federal office to monitor discrimination. She expanded parental leave and child-care guarantees and sponsored the “Chefsache” initiative to make gender balance a top management priority. Merkel has contributed more to gender equality in Germany than all previous Chancellors combined.

Politics is a field traditionally dominated by men. Merkel’s long-standing and remarkable success as a leader in German politics is a powerful inspiration for women everywhere. She was ranked the world’s most powerful woman by Forbes in 2020. Research shows that visible, successful female leaders like Merkel empower women's leadership behaviors, helping to usher in the next generation of female leadership. Additionally, female politicians and leaders make women and adolescent girls want to be more politically active. Women look to Merkel, and they can see new possibilities for themselves and others like them to hold positions of authority. Merkel herself said, “nobody laughs anymore if a girl says she wants to become a Chancellor.” Angela Merkel, then, is a feminist also because she empowers women and shows that they can hold positions traditionally unavailable or rare for them. 

More than anything, Merkel is a feminist because she exemplifies the potential for women in the context of our sexist society. Role models like her inspire women facing a host of challenges and obstacles in society. She advances gender politics while building approaches of gender equality. Merkel asserts her right to be and lead at the leadership table traditionally led by men. As declared feminist and fellow woman leader Christine Lagarde said, Merkel embodies a “spirit of courage and leadership.” Angela Merkel is a feminist because her courage and leadership provide an example for women on the journey for gender equality.

About
Whitney DeVries
:
Whitney DeVries is a Diplomatic Courier correspondent currently pursuing a master’s degree in International Affairs and Global Enterprise at the University of Utah.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.