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Germany

Is Germany’s “Stay-At-Home” Bonus Plan Anti-Women?

Starting next year, the German government would like to put a little money in the pockets of stay-at-home parents. The E.U. Commmission in Brussels doesn’t approve, saying the bonus scheme encourages mother's not to rejoin the workforce.

German stay-at-home parents could have a little more
German stay-at-home parents could have a little more
Stefanie Bolzen

BERLIN -- The E.U. Commission has reservations about the bonus that, come 2013, the German government wants to start paying stay-at-home parents. In Germany, critics have dubbed it the "Herdprämie," meaning kitchen-stove bonus.

The European Union's Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion László Andor told Die Welt that "giving parents an incentive to stay home by giving them money for doing so weakens the work force." Andor said he was surprised that the German government would encourage women to stay at home and look after their children. "The European policy of promoting the presence of women in the working world is absolutely clear," he said.

The bonus could have some undesirable consequences for the German government at the European level because -- within the framework of measures taken to combat the present crisis -- Berlin too has to present national reform programs to the E.U. Commission. Adopting such a bonus could make Germany, which likes to see itself as something of a maverick economically speaking, appear as if it is hobbling its national economy.

A dearth of state-provided daycare

The social minister for the German state of Bavaria, Christine Haderthauer, was outraged by the criticism from Brussels. "The E.U. Commission's sweeping blow to family policy stems from ignorance of the subject," she said. Haderthauer is one of the strongest advocates of the bonus. She pointed out that it's not an either/or situation. "All parents, irrespective of whether or how much they work, would get the bonus if they organize an alternative to daycare centers or other pre-school arrangements for their kids," Haderthauer said.

In reply to questions from Die Welt, E.U. Commissioner Andor criticized the inadequacy of state-provided daycare in Germany. He said he is aware Germany is working to improve the situation, but "would very much welcome it if they would increase the number of places available in daycare centers." Brussels, in other words, wants more kindergartens, not stay-at-home bonuses.

The German government must now provide a statement in writing that the planned bonus will not get in the way of integrating women fully into the work force. The E.U. Commission is not in a position to impose any sort of punitive measures, but its disapproval of the bonus plan will undoubtedly generate further debate about it in Germany, where it's a source of disagreement not only between the government and the opposition, but also within the government coalition itself.

Read the original article in German

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Ideas

Why The Fate Of Iran (Like Ukraine!) Is About Something Much Bigger

Just as Ukrainians are defending the sovereignty of Europe's borders and the right to democracy, the Iranians risking their lives to protest are fighting a bigger battle for peace across the Middle East.

Photo of members of the Iranian paramilitary volunteer forces (Basij)

Members of Iranian paramilitary volunteer forces (Basij) during a meeting with Iranian Supreme leader

Kayhan-London

-OpEd-

Tumult has been a constant in human societies, alternating between periods of war and peace. Iran, my country, has had more than its fair share of turmoil.

It is universal to be hopeful that the peaceful periods would be prolonged by increased freedom in society brought about by scientific, economic and legal progress.

And it has, but mostly in the West and in countries in south-east Asia. There, they have used the force of economic development to assure their citizens a measure of peace and security, with or without democracy. This certainly is not the case in the Middle East, in many African countries and even in Latin American states run by the "anti-imperialist" Left.

Many of these places have, among other troubles affecting them, become the den of that violent and vicious ideology, Islamism.

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