Thousands march in Women's Day demos in Germany
Several thousand protesters gathered in Berlin and other German cities to march on International Women's Day on Wednesday, with Donald Trump's presidency being a recurring theme.
The marches aligned with the ‘Day Without a Woman’ walkouts and rallies across the US, and also served as a follow-up to mass rallies held after US President Trump’s inauguration.
Similar events also took place on Wednesday in other German cities, like Cologne and Bonn.
Police told The Local that in Berlin alone, several thousand people gathered at Hermannplatz in the diverse Neukölln district.
German political parties like Die Linke (the Left Party) and the Green party showed up to participate in the event with banners, flyers and booming music played from trucks. American groups like Democrats Abroad also showed up.
“We felt that it was important to come together and focus on the international aspect to show our support for other countries as well,” Emily Lines from Democrats Abroad told The Local.
“I think for Americans, Germany with its female leader shows that it’s possible - it shows everyone that it’s possible - and that she is the most powerful woman in the world and one of the most powerful leaders overall.
“I think it’s something to aspire to and prove that women can do these jobs no problem.”
A common theme, even among Germans at the rally, was Trump’s treatment of women, particularly the video that emerged during his campaign in which he said he could “grab [women] by the pussy”.
“It started with Trump and everything happening there, but there’s so much to be upset about,” said German Sabine from The Coalition advocacy group.
But Germany’s own treatment of women was also a topic of discussion. While the Bundesrepublik has a female Chancellor, it also has one of the largest gender pay gaps in Europe with women earning 21.6 percent of what men earn.
"Women are still earning 21 percent less than men, there is still a lot of sexist advertising, and women and men are still guided into these gender roles that are really really bad for the future and for their self esteem," said German protester Maja, while holding a sign reading 'Without Hermione, Harry would've died in book 1'.
"I think that this is especially important in Germany, because Germany is meant to be emancipated, or thinks that it is more emancipated than other countries, and it's actually not like that. There are still the same problems as in other countries," she added.
Photo: Emma Anderson/The Local
“The gender wage gap is definitely a big thing for me personally as well because it always upsets me when I think that guys are getting jobs that I probably won’t get because I put in the male wage that I want. I probably get kicked to the curb because of that,” Sabine told The Local.
“At another company that I worked for, women specifically are overlooked when it comes to promotions because ‘Oh, they’re going to want to work part-time at a certain time’.
“We’ve come far, but it’s not the end. We definitely still have a long fight ahead.”
Experts attribute the wage gap in part to how women are more likely to take on jobs in low-paid sectors, or only part-time jobs.
When adjusted for comparable qualifications and positions, women in Germany made 7 percent less per hour than men in 2010.
The Federal Statistics Office also says that there are often “poor opportunities for women to access certain professions or career levels, which may be the result of discriminatory structures”. Some also point out that women often feel more pressure than men to take on more flexible or part-time work when they start a family.
“In Germany, another issue is the work-life balance: finding the way to have a job and also have kids and also have a full-time job,” said Lines from Democrats Abroad.
Other than some protesters showing resistance to police officers, officials said the event went off “largely trouble-free”.