Minister calls for better family support in new year
German Family Minister Ursula von der Leyen called on politicians and economic leaders to “work hard” towards helping people reconcile work and family commitments in the new year.
In an interview given Wednesday morning, von der Leyen said that very practical issues like the availability of kindergarten places needed to be addressed in 2009. She also expressed enthusiasm over the rise in birthrates in Germany. “It is a great sign of trust from young parents that finally more children are being born in our country.”
Around 99 percent of families are now claiming the state's parental allowance, while more and more fathers are claiming paternal leave. One in six German fathers are now taking time off for their children.
“These men used to be thought of as softies,” von der Leyen said, “But recent polls show that the acceptance of active fatherhood is rising.” The minister would like to see the next legislative period used to encourage this development.
“My job is to dismantle the many ifs and buts that stop people fulfilling their wish to have children,” she added.
But von der Leyen also pointed to the problems Germany faces. “As long as German landlords still drag people to court because of a pram in the hallway or because of children making noise, we will have problems.”