Speech by Minister of State Michelle Müntefering for the debate on Feminist Foreign Policyin the German Bundestag

22.02.2019 - Speech

– Check against delivery –

This Greens motion is a well founded one; this is a debate worth having!

Ellinor von Puttkamer was the Federal Republic of Germany’s first female ambassador, appointed by Foreign Minister Willy Brandt in 1969. The Federal Foreign Office had officially recognised her as possessing, and I quote, “quite masculine powers of reason”. We must suppose it was meant as a compliment.

You’ll pardon my saying so, but I have my doubts about those “masculine powers of reason” – not least in consideration of some of the rulers we see around the world.

Progress is being made on getting women into top jobs, including at the Federal Foreign Office – although, as you know, only 33 percent of our senior positions in Berlin and 15 percent of those at our missions abroad are held by women. That is not enough.

Much remains to be done. There is still room for improvement, for instance, in the way our embassies report back to Berlin.

In Heiko Maas, we have a Foreign Minister who has understood the issue and for whom equal opportunities is not an unfamiliar term.

We are aware that we can still improve. The fact is that women’s participation in political processes is still far from routine. I therefore appreciate the Greens in opposition raising this today, and making specific proposals – several of which we are implementing or have already started work on.

Esteemed colleagues,

We now know that – as we just heard from Ms Motschmann – peace treaties are more stable and lasting when women have a role. Wherever wars rage, they affect women most acutely. Rape, exploitation and sexual violence are used as instruments of warfare, deliberately employed to crush a country’s people.

That is why we make a point of working with local people in any particular area. Let me give you an example. The disarmament campaigns we supported in rural Nigeria would not have worked without the inclusion and powers of persuasion of female leaders.

We cannot make good policy while ignoring the needs of half the global population. We cannot advance democracy without their involvement. We cannot establish peace around the world without ensuring women’s safety.

These things will not happen by themselves. The UN Human Rights Charter, the global Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs – these are the major international agreements which we need to work always and everywhere to pursue and uphold.

Our work on the UN Security Council will therefore include assuming the role of co chair in relation to Resolution 1325 on Women and Peace and Security. This sends a strong message about Germany’s position on these matters.

I have personally had a meeting with Margot Wallström and assured the members of the Security Council of our backing – including specific and financial support.

Recognising how important it is for women to have strong networks, we are supporting the African Women Leaders Network and are currently establishing a second such network with Latin America and the Caribbean.

We will be inviting members of civil society to New York. We want to give them a platform, make their voices heard.

Esteemed colleagues,

It is my firm belief that this is a debate worth having, because we women can make a difference to the direction our world is taking.

And I say to the men, please help us do so.

Thank you very much.


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