Angela Merkel was born on July 17, 1954 in Hamburg, West Germany to Herlind and Horst Kasner. Her father Horst was a Lutheran Clergyman. Just weeks after Merkel’s birth he received a pastorate in Perleberg moving the family to East Germany. Both her parents were very supportive of Merkel and encouraged her both in and out of a classroom. She became an impressive leader from a young age participating in many of the state’s youth organizations including being a member of Young Pioneers and Free German Youth. However, unlike many would presume, Merkel went to Leipzig to study physics at Karl Marx University. It was in her physics class where she met her first husband Ulrich Merkel. They married in 1977, a year before she earned her diploma. After university she worked as a member of the academic faculty at the Central Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Academy of Sciences in East Berlin. For her impressive work, she was awarded a doctorate for her thesis on quantum chemistry. Merkel’s public life was a success and she was doing exactly what she loved, however her private life failed to match it. Angela and Ulrich divorced after only 5 years of marriage, but she did decide to keep his last name.
In 1989 after the fall of the Berlin Wall Merkel joined the Democratic Awakening and became the party’s press spokesperson, echoing her involvement in youth leadership organizations. Shortly after, the Democratic Awakening joined the Conservative Alliance for Germany, a coalition with the German Social Union (DSU) and the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). In 1990, the reputation of the coalition was damaged when it was revealed only days before the first and only free election in East Germany that the chairman of the Democratic Awakening Wolfgang Schnur had been working as a Stasi informant for years. Although at times it did not seem it would, the coalition was in fact victorious and the Democratic Awakening became a part of the government with Merkel becoming the deputy spokesperson of the government of Lothar de Maizière. She then joined the CDU in August of 1990 which merged with its western counterpart on October 1st, one day before the reunification of Germany.
with Merkel being elected to replace him. From there she became the minister of environment, conservation, and reactor safety and presided over the first United Nations Climate Conference in Berlin in 1995.
As her success in her public life continued to grow, her private life finally matched up and she married chemistry professor Joachim Sauer in 1998.
Having prevailed past multiple scandals in her past when her former mentor Helmut Kohl of the CDU was hit with a scandal over use of illegal campaign contributions Merkel refused to stay silent. She wrote an open letter calling upon the CDU to make a fresh start which proved to only increase her popularity. In 2000 she was elected the head of the CDU becoming the first woman to lead the party since its founding.
In 2005 the support for the Social Democratic Party of Germany dwindled and the general election resulted in basically a tie between the CDU-CSU and the SPD. While both parties scrambled to find allies in an attempt to form a government, months of negotiations proved unsuccessful. They both eventually settled on a “grand coalition” with Merkel becoming chancellor. She had been setting records her whole life but with her new role as chancellor she became the first woman, the first East German, and the youngest person to date to hold the office.
Today she is now on her third term in office, the second in German history to have held power for this long. She is an inspiration to women across the world succeeding as a woman in a male-oriented party. She has held strong support during her time as Chancellor and has refused to let her male dominated field discourage her from advocating for the German people and doing what she loves. While she has been at times reluctant to call herself a true feminist she has devoted much of her time to an important initiative to improve gender inequality at work. Speaking at the G7 Summit in 2015, where she was one of the few females in attendance, she stated, “We need to talk about the possibilities open to women around the world to establish their independence and ensure their advancement through safe and skilled labour. All the statistics show a reduction in poverty and inequality when more women play an active part in economic life. However, only about 50 per cent of all women are currently in gainful employment.” Merkel understands the importance of women in society and the valuable and irreplaceable role that they bring to the workplace. In many countries around the world women earn less than 80% of the wages of their male counter parts. This issue is a matter of human rights, but even for those who fail to see it as won, its elimination would help promote both the economy and social stability. According to the International Monetary Fund increasing the rates of female labour force participation in line with their equivalents for men would raise gross domestic product (GDP) across the world with countries including the United States GDP being raised by five per cent and Japan by nine per cent. Merkel understands the ways to create change and really transform her country. As the leader of one of the largest and most successful nations, Angela Merkel shows that there is no job that a women cannot hold.
Petrikowski, Nicki Peter. “Chancellorship.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 21 Aug. 2019, www.britannica.com/biography/Angela-Merkel/Chancellorship.
Ridge, Sophy. “Angela Merkel Is Finally Having Her Feminist Moment (and I'm Saying a Silent 'Hallelujah').” The Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 4 June 2015, www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-politics/11651033/Angela-Merkel-Germanys-Chancellor-is-finally-having-a-feminist-moment.html.
“Step It Up: Germany Pledges to Expand Support for Women's Professional Skills in Developing Countries, and Require Corporate Boards at Home to Apply a 30 per Cent Quota for Women.” UN Women, www.unwomen.org/en/get-involved/step-it-up/commitments/germany.