chapter  2
16 Pages

BEYOND SOCIALISM: The uncertain prospects for East German women in a unified Germany

ByHedwig Rudolph‚ Eileen Appelbaum‚ and Friederike Maier

The political, economic and social unification of the two Germanies was initially greeted with much optimism and great expectations. However, fears about the economic future also loom large in the former German Democratic Republic (East Germany). Women comprised half the East German workforce, but their prospects are among the most uncertain outcomes of the unification process. Similarly, the future of women’s life and work, and gender relations in a unified Germany, are among the most worrisome aspects of unification. None the less, the condition of women has not been a major issue in discussions concerning this process. This is all the more surprising because East Germany had a long tradition of affirmative action policies, and because the transformation process contains the risk of a serious backlash.