Germany heads toward gender equality in culture, language and legislation

The modern world is changing rapidly, and we can witness how once actual realities go into the past or alter. One of the most burning issues in today’s world is gender equality. Unfortunately, in many developing countries equal rights are out of the question, as men and women are treated differently at all levels. Yet, some other states – predominantly, major powers – are taking big steps toward gender equality in culture, language and legislation. One of those developed countries is Germany.

Germany is considered to be an advanced country, and equality of rights at the official level is discussed in great detail. During the last couple of years, it has achieved great progress in promoting equal treatment. These changes can be seen both in cultural and political fields.

Germany Heads Toward Gender Equality: Gender-Neutral Language to Be Introduced in Hannover

Such widely used words as “voter,” “teacher,” “actor” and some other names of professions can easily disappear from the German business language. In any case, such plans are built by the Hannover authorities. At the end of January 2019, the city administration confirmed the information that now the texts of all documentation should be formulated in “language concerning gender equality.”

According to Der Spiegel, the new regulation will apply to business letters, document forms, government statements, press releases, information brochures and even invitations to official events. Over ten thousand employees of formal structures employees are subject to this provision.

Representatives of the Hannover administration want to eliminate the words that indicate gender. For example, instead of “male teacher” (“Lehrer” in German) or “female teacher” (“Lehrerin”) officials shifted to the use of “teaching person” – “Lehrende.” Instead of the word “voter” (“Wahler”), civil servants will use “electing person” (“Wahlende”), and the word “participant” (“Teilnehmer”) will turn into “a person” (“Persone”).

Thus, the city administration wants to demonstrate its support for Germany heading toward gender equality.

“The implementation of this idea is an important signal and the next step to address all people, regardless of their gender,” says the mayor of Hannover Stefan Schostok. According to him, “universal gender language” should be used wherever possible.

The government of Hannover has decided to introduce gender-sensitive words as a fast response to the law on the introduction of a third gender category. The corresponding column in all acts of civil status appeared on January 1. Since that time, the law has come into effect.

There is a legal disclaimer in the new regulation – if it is impossible to use neutral words like “teaching person,” “electing person” and the ones similar to them in the official texts, the so-called Stargender (“Gendersternchen” in German) must be written instead. The “Stargender rule” has been used since 2003 in written language as a means of addressing all genders.

german flag and gender equality. Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
A German flag. image by Gerd Altmann from PixabayImage by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Germany Heads Toward Gender Equality: The Parliament of Brandenburg to Be “Half-Female” by 2020

As for the political changes, there is important news from another German city – Brandenburg. In just one year, political parties in Brandenburg will be obliged to nominate an equal number of candidates, both male and female. The local Parliament supported the relevant legislative changes on January 31. This kind of “gender” law has no precedent in Germany, and its purpose is to introduce equal opportunities for males and females to participate in political life. Currently, there are 88 deputies in the Brandenburg State Parliament, with only 35 female members.

The revision of the electoral law proposed by The Green party was the one to suggest the revision of the electoral legislation. However, the forthcoming Brandenburg parliamentary elections, which will take place on September 1, 2019, will not be affected by it anyhow. The new regulation will come into effect in the second half of 2020. In addition to the Green party, the “gender” law also received support from the coalition government of Brandenburg.

It is the first election legislation in Germany to address gender equality issues in the political field. Nevertheless, the fate of the innovation has not yet been determined, as several court appeals against the decision of the Land Parliament are expected. The reason for that is Christian Democrats, as well as the “Alternative for Germany,” voting against the new gender-related regulation, as they consider it unconstitutional.

Some federal-level politicians supported the innovation. Germany’s justice minister Katarina Barley, called the new gender parity law “a considerable progress” adding that she hopes such laws to come into effect at the national level. Another significant stateswoman, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, said she wished to see a more substantial number of female members in the Parliament. Being the leader of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany, she is also willing to address the issue within her party.

Germany is one of the leading countries of our world, and its government heads toward gender equality in culture, language and legislation. Language innovations represent a vital change in the society and the minds of its members. That is why such online language-teaching platforms as strive to track all essential changes related to languages – our most crucial communication tool.

July Mayer
July Mayer is a freelance writer who lives in with her husband, 7-year old son and a medium-sized dog. Before she became a freelance writer, she experimented with various occupations: marketing, dog-training, scientificating … But her favorite job is the one she’s now doing full time - writing stories.