The changing status and role of women


The changing status and role of women


  • The Family |Code of 1966 stated that men and women should share equally in childcare and domestic work
  • The Code emphasised women's equality in marriage and family
  • The 8th SED Congress of 1971 introduced a range of new social policies aimed at improving the working and living conditions of women
  • Abortion was legalised in 1972
  • Contraceptives became available free of charge
  • Welfare reforms were used to try and counteract the falling birth rate - maternity leave was extended from 18 to 26 weeks
  • All mothers received a lump sum of 1000DM when their baby was born
  • Working hours were limited to 40 hours a week for mothers
  • Mothers received one day off a moth to complete domestic duties
  • By the late 1980s, the GDR had one of the highest proportions of female employment in the world (around 90% compared  to 50% in the FRG)
  • Social policy in the GDR increased access for women to further education and made important strides towards gender equality
  • Birth rate increased due to social welfare provision that was offered
  • Women made up half of all teachers and doctors by the mid-1980s


  • Status of women was not always equal to that of men
  • Women made up a much higher proportion of the workforce in lower-paid and unskilled jobs
  • The majority of higher level positions were held by men
  • Women were also under represented in politics, the only female minister was Margot Honecker


Overall, a success. 


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