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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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Economy

In Uganda, Having A "Rolex" Is About Not Going Hungry

Experts fear the higher food prices resulting from the conflict in Ukraine could jeopardize the health of many Ugandans. Take a look at this ritzy-named simple dish.

Zziwa Fred, a street vendor who runs two fast-food businesses in central Uganda, rolls a freshly prepared chapati known as a Rolex.

Nakisanze Segawa

WAKISO — Godfrey Kizito takes a break from his busy shoe repair shop every day so he can enjoy his favorite snack, a vegetable and egg omelet rolled in a freshly prepared chapati known as a Rolex. But for the past few weeks, this daily ritual has given him neither the satisfaction nor the sustenance he is used to consuming. Kizito says this much-needed staple has shrunk in size.

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Most streets and markets in Uganda have at least one vendor firing up a hot plate ready to cook the Rolex, short for rolled eggs — which usually comes with tomatoes, cabbage and onion and is priced anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 Ugandan shillings (28 to 57 cents). Street vendor Farouk Kiyaga says many of his customers share Kizito’s disappointment over the dwindling size of Uganda’s most popular street food, but Kiyaga is struggling with the rising cost of wheat and cooking oil.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has halted exports out of the two countries, which account for about 26% of wheat exports globally and about 80% of the world’s exports of sunflower oil, pushing prices to an all-time high, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, a United Nations agency. Not only oil and wheat are affected. Prices of the most consumed foods worldwide, such as meat, grains and dairy products, hit their highest levels ever in March, making a nutritious meal even harder to buy for those who already struggle to feed themselves and their families. The U.N. organization warns the conflict could lead to as many as 13.1 million more people going hungry between 2022 and 2026.

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