The Second Gender Equality Report
Equality means every person has the same opportunities to realise her or his concept of a good life – irrespective of their gender. This includes equal opportunities in their professional career, in social participation and in family life. By ensuring this, the skills and experiences of women and men can be equally utilized and their needs be satisfied in a just manner. These equal opportunities should not only exist in theory, but must be put into practice. This is not only a question of what is allowed and what is not. There are additional factors and causes for unequal opportunities for women and men, for instance socially embedded concepts and expectations about what women are good at or how men should behave.
For every parliamentary term, the federal government presents a report on gender equality in Germany. This Gender Equality Report includes an assessment made by an expert commission as well as recommendations on how to improve gender equality. The federal government takes a position regarding this expert assessment. Both, the assessment and the government’s position, together form the federal government’s Gender Equality Report.
In Mai 2015, the expert commission has started working on the Second Gender Equality Report. The experts have exchanged their findings on gender equality in working sessions and commissioned additional studies. In January 2017, the assessment report was handed over to the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth. After that, the ministry has worked together with other federal ministries to draft their position. This position was approved in June 2017 by the cabinet and the federal government’s Second Gender Equality Report was passed on to the parliament.
Gender equality has not yet been achieved in Germany. The disparity found in the political, economic and social participation of women and
men in numerous areas of life reflects the different extent to which the capabilities of women and men achieve recognition. This imbalance is also the result of gender-based structures that prevent women and men from realising their life plans. The Expert Commission describes the barriers and hindrances to equal capabilities and opportunities inherent in
discrimination, power structures, structural discrimination on the grounds of institutional rules and agendas with gender-specific adverse effects for one sex, as well as the role models and gender stereotypes. Particularly the way society organises paid work (including paid care work) and unpaid care work has a major impact on gender equality.
The aim of the Expert Commission’s expertise is to create a society in which “there are equal capabilities for women and men; lifetime opportunities and risks are equally apportioned”.
Gender Equality Policy Objectives
This guiding principle gives rise to the gender equality policy objectives for organising employment and care work.
- Independent economic security through integration in the workforce on equal terms
- Independent economic security through social security for unpaid work
- Independent economic security in old age
- Gender relations based on partnership and the dissolution of gender stereotypes
- Equal distribution of unpaid care work irrespective of gender
- Compatibility of a decent livelihood, care work and employment
- Access to quality (and affordable) care and support structures
- Equal pay for the same work and for work of equal value
- Eradication of discrimination and protection against gender-based violence.
Life Course Approach
The expertise for the Second Gender Equality Report is inspired by the life course approach, as was the First Gender Equality Report. The life course approach explains how life is comprised of numerous transition phases requiring decisions to be taken. How a person decides on arriving at such a junction is not only a matter of personal preferences and the availability of resources, but is also contingent on numerous other factors at social, economic, individual and possibly also family levels. Gender equality policy oriented to life course is charged with the organisation of such factors.
Substantial life course decisions are not taken in an individual, isolated manner but are embedded in social relationships with other people. This also includes decisions regarding workload-sharing in paid work and unpaid care work.
This views gender as being a social category, not isolated from, but lived in the same way as other social categories such as ethnic or cultural orientation, nationality and social class. It is precisely the interwoven and crossover nature of these categories of difference that require analysis (intersectional perspective). In an attempt to identify the effects of recommendations for action on different groups of men and women, the expertise reflects on intersectionality wherever possible. The expertise also endeavours to include the situations of those who live outside gender-dichotomous and/or heterosexual norms (LGBTIQ*).
Gender Care Gap
The outcome of the social organisation of paid work and (unpaid) care work: personal financial and social situations are heavily contingent on gender. Data on the level of inequality can be condensed to a number
of statistical indicators that include the Gender Pay Gap, the Gender Lifetime Earnings Gap, the Gender Pension Gap, the Gender Time Gap and the Gender Equality Index. These indicators relate primarily to paid work and earnings gained from employment.
There is so far no indicator for the uneven distribution of unpaid care work. The Expert Commission therefore commissioned the calculation of the Gender Care Gap (GCG) and presented it in the Second Gender Equality Report. The GCG is determined by setting the time spent on
unpaid daily care work by women against the time spent on unpaid daily care work by men. It is calculated on the basis of representative data taken from the Time Usage survey of the Federal Statistical Office.
The Gender Care Gap is 52.4 % (based on the most recent Time Usage Survey 2012/2013), which means women perform 52.4 % more unpaid care work than men, every day. This is equivalent to one hour and 27 minutes more care work daily.
Making possible the Earner-Carer-Model
The case for ‘a new standard based on the employee with care obligations’ was already made in the First Gender Equality Report. Accordingly, the Expert Commission for the Second Gender Equality Report has taken it as given that the gender-equal organisation of paid work and (unpaid) care work must provide everyone irrespective of gender with the ability to combine employment and care work in equal measures during the life course. The Expert Commission recommends the term ‘earner-carermodel’ for the concept of employment and unpaid
care work seen from a gender equality perspective. According to this, and contingent on the constraints of an individual life-course, everyone should be able to contribute private care work in addition to paid work; it should also always be possible for informal/unpaid care work to coexist alongside paid work.
This requires conditions that allow people to take up employment on an equal footing, without having to forego private care work. The earner-carer-model therefore requires policy-makers to address existing problems in connection with the distribution of
employment and care work and to ensure that there is no individualisation of the organisation of care work in the private sphere. Instead, institutional and political agendas must ensure that people in twoincome constellations can live them without being constantly overstretched. It should be possible for men to contribute informal care work without having to deal with preconceptions of stereotypes and
coming to an economic dead-end – a situation many women are familiar with. It must be possible to live the earner-carer-model irrespective of gender.