1. Tampon tax scrapped
In November, the German Parliament voted to downgrade the tax status of tampons, pads and other sanitary items from “luxury” goods to the same category for everyday household items – meaning a tax reduction of 12 percent.
The move by the German government was brought on by years of petitions from campaigners and the tax cut will come into effect from January 7th, 2020.
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- Tampon tax: Campaigners fight for free menstrual products throughout Germany
2. March 8th, a new public holiday in honour of women
Women (and men) living in Berlin were given further reason to celebrate in 2019 as International Women’s Day on March 8th was recognized as a public holiday. The German capital became the only state to officially grant the day off from work.
Thousands of people took this work-free day as an opportunity to take to the streets to join the protests and demonstrations for equality for women and members of the LBGTQ community all over the world.
3. Renewable energy on the rise
In one of many positive news stories affecting the environment this year, it was reported in June that, for the first time, renewable energy sources produced more electricity than coal and nuclear energy combined in Germany in the first half of 2019, as well as 15 percent less carbon dioxide than the same period last year.
Wind energy park in Brandenburg, February 2019. Photo: DPA
4. A better life for Bavarian bees
Environmental activism in Bavaria led to a “Save the Bees” law being passed in the region, meaning that the southern state now has a better nature conservation law and stricter targets for agricultural land to obtain organic farming standards by 2025.
The act was passed into law after a petition seeking better protection for plant and animal species received 1.75 million signatures – the most successful in Bavaria’s history.
5. Faster integration than expected
As we reported back in August, refugees who have come to Germany since 2015 are integrating more quickly than expected into the workforce.
Figures published by the Institute for Employment Research showed that around 400,000 refugees have jobs in Germany and about 36 percent of refugees between the ages of 15 and 64 are in the workforce or employed.
A laboratory in the German Centre for Degenerative Diseases. Source: DPA
6. Huge leap forward for Alzheimer’s research
One of the main barriers to treating Alzheimer’s Disease is that its symptoms are only recognizable once the disease has progressed to a stage which is no longer treatable.
However, in 2019 a team of Scientists at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), the Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research (HIH) and the University Hospital Tübingen discovered how to precisely monitor the progression of Alzheimer’s disease years before obvious signs appear. This discovery could pave the way for new testing therapies to be developed.
7. The missing link discovered in Deutschland?
The discovery of the fossilized remains in Bavaria of a creature which lived nearly twelve million years ago, may bring us closer to understanding the path of human evolution.
The research by the University of Tübingen, suggests that we may have begun walking on two legs millions of years earlier than previously thought and that these bipedal ancestors may have originated in Europe – and not in Africa.
8. House of one
A project to make Berlin the capital of peace and tolerance, through establishing a building which will be home to three religions, got the go-ahead from the Berlin Senate in 2019 when they purchased a property available for 99 years as a lease for the “inter-religious building”.
The “House-of-One”, a project lead by Rabbi Andreas Nachama, Protestant pastor Georg Hohberg and the Muslim Iman Kadir Sanic, will see be a centre for learning and understanding with the three religions housed under one roof.
9. Saved supermarket goods
With the slogan “Lebensmittel retten” (save groceries) Berlin-based start-up “SirPlus” really got going in 2019, launching its waste-food business online.
SirPlus rescues still-edible foods which are discarded by supermarkets and resells them at an 80 percent price reduction, in a business model which is both echo- and wallet-friendly.
The Roncalli Circus, June 2019 in Hamburg. Souce: DPA
10. Hologram circus animals
In 2019, the German Roncalli Circus implemented an ingenious way to stop using performing animals in shows by using holograms instead. The circus creates stunning 3D holograms using 11 projectors, in a move which has been welcomed by many animal rights activists.