I was struck by the warmth and appreciation shown by citizens of Germany as German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced she would be stepping down this year.
Reports said she received six minutes of applause from citizens who came out on their balconies to express appreciation for her 15 years of leadership.
She was Germany’s first female chancellor, she has been called the Climate Change Chancellor – although she wavered at times, and she took a courageous stand to allow one million refugees enter Germany in 2015. At last count she worked with seven Italian prime ministers, five British prime ministers, four French presidents, four American presidents and three Canadian prime ministers.
Perhaps fittingly, International Women’s Day, which is now held on March 8, began in Germany – along with Austria, Denmark and Switzerland – in 1911.
There’s a myth that has circulated for some years that sexism is dead, that the need for ‘women’s lib’ is a thing of the past. While that’s a really pretty thought, it is a myth.
Merkel is an anomaly in terms of what she achieved, but not in terms of women’s capabilities.
As we wade through the second year of a pandemic, the basic, root problems of our world have never been more obvious.
The lack of mainstream society’s respect for the elderly has possibly never been clearer. Violence against women has been on the rise. When schools shut down it’s overwhelmingly women who have been expected to pick up the slack. Many of the health-care workers on the front lines who are at risk and need two jobs to survive are women, and people of colour. The effects of climate change are undeniable. And on and on. It’s a lousy list. But it’s also a signal there’s nowhere to go but up.
What better time to give little girls (and in turn all people) a future of equality and respect, one without poverty, one where power and resources are shared, one on an Earth that’s healing. And one where Angela Merkel isn’t an exception. The timing couldn’t be better.