Gender Equality in Germany

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Flag of Germany
Population (in Mil.) 80.43
Gross Domestic Product (In USD Billions - WB) 3,533.24
Sex Ratio (m/f) 0.97
Life Expectancy Ratio (f/m) 1.064102564
Fertility Rate 1.41
Estimated Earned Income (f/m) 0.76
Tertiary Enrolment Ratio (f/m) ..
Women in Parliament (in %) 36.3
Human Development Index 5/187
Social Institutions and Gender Index /86
Gender Inequality Index 5/186
Gender Equity Index 10/168
Women’s Economic Opportunity Index 6/128
Global Gender Gap Index 14/68
More information on variables


Ranked 11th in the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report 2008, Germany's record on gender equality is mixed. While political participation of women remains high and public commitment to gender equality is evident through gender mainstreaming programmes at all levels of government, salary gaps between men and women are among the worst in Europe. While there is parity of educational attainment at secondary and tertiary level, the subject and vocation choices of women (largely in education, humanities) partially explain later salary gaps and differences in educational opportunities. The Federal Government has launched a programme encouraging women to study engineering-, technology- or science-related subjects to counter this trend.

Social Institutions

The Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) measures gender-based discrimination in social norms, practices and laws across 160 countries. The SIGI comprises country profiles, a classification of countries and a database; it serves as a research, policy and advocacy tool for the development community and policy makers.

The SIGI covers five dimensions of discriminatory social institutions, spanning major socio-economic areas that affect women’s lives: discriminatory family code, restricted physical integrity, son bias, restricted resources and assets, and restricted civil liberties. The SIGI’s variables quantify discriminatory social institutions such as unequal inheritance rights, early marriage, violence against women, and unequal land and property rights.

In the 2014 edition of the SIGI, Germany was not classified in the SIGI due to lack of full dataset. It has lower discrimination in restricted access to resources and assets and higher discrimination in restricted civil liberties. Read the full country profile and access the data here:


Gender equality is enschrined in article 3 section 2 and section 3 sentence 1 of the 1949 Constitution, amended in 1994, as well as in all state constitutions. There are many statutes that govern sex equality, both on the federal as well as on state level. One example is the Federal Act on Equal Opportunities between Women and Men in the Federal Administration and in the Courts of the Federation (Gleichstellungsgesetz für die Bundesverwaltung und die Gerichte des Bundes) from 2001, on equality in employment and labour in the public service, replacing a 1994 law criticised for not being sufficiently binding. State laws have been challenged bit upheld as not violating the principle of equality in the European Court of Justice (Cases Marschall, Badeck). In 2006, the General Equal Treatment Act (Allgemeines Gleichbehandlungsgesetz) was passed, in transposing EU law, that covers sex equality and promotes affirmative action.

In 2000, the principle of gender mainstreaming has to be implemented by all federal government departments, according to the general rules of government interaction (Gemeinsame Geschaefstordnung der Bundesregierung, GGO). From 2003 until 2010, the government funded a GenderCompetenceCentre to help implementing that. Gender equality issues are the responsibility at federal level of the Federal Ministry for Family, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend ). Each federal state (Laender) implements its own policies on gender equality.


According to the 2005 research carried out by the Institute for Economic and Social Research of the Hans Böckler Foundation, educational attainment of women had improved since the early 1990s. In 1991, 11.9% of women between 25 and 29 years of age had an upper secondary leaving certificate (Abitur), giving them access to university studies. This compared with a figure of 18.5% for men of the same age. In 2004 the percentages had risen to 40.6% for women and 37.8% for men. At university level, the numbers of female and male students are approximately equal. However, the percentage of female students drops at higher degree levels. Only 39% of students with a Ph.D. qualification (Promotion) were women, while only 22.7% with a postdoctoral lecture qualification (Habilitation) were women. In terms of the choice of field of study, women are particularly prevalent in languages and cultural studies and are less likely to be represented in the sciences; women however outnumber men in medical studies. 


In 2004, 59.2% of women were employed. The increase in female employment was due to the increase in the numbers of women in part-time work. A regional breakdown of the figures shows that 45% of women in western Germany work part time, but only 28% in eastern Germany. Only 20% of women with under-age children were in full-time employment in 2004.

In 2004, women working full time earned, on average, 23% less than men. This wage gap is one of the largest in Europe.

Political Empowerment

Women were granted the right to vote in 1918. Since the early 1980s quotas were established by political parties themselves to encourage greater female participation: beginning with the Green Party who introduced a quota of 50%, followed by the Social Democrats in 1988, whose constitution recommends that at least 1/3 of candidates for internal party elections be female. This has since raised to 40% in party and public elections. The Christian Democratic Party (CDU) introduced a quota of 30% in 1996, although they have not yet reached this target. The Christlich-Soziale Union (CSU, the Bavarian sister party of the CDU) introduced a quota in fall 2010. The Liberals (Freie Demokratische Partei, FDP) have so far not introduced party quotas.

Germany was ranked 18th by the Inter-Parliamentary Union of Women (IPUW) 2008 survey with women representing 32.2% of members of the lower house and 21.7% of the Senate, representing a decline on previous years. The current Chancellor, Angela Merkel, elected in 2005 is the first woman to be elected to this post.


See Also

The Women, Business and the Law

Where are laws equal for men and women?  

The Women, Business and the Law report presents indicators based on laws and regulations affecting women's prospects as entrepreneurs and employees. Several of these indicators draw on the Gender Law Library, a collection of over 2,000 legal provisions impacting women's economic status. This report does not seek to judge or rank countries, but to provide information to inform discussions about women’s economic rights. Women, Business and the Law provides data covering 6 areas: accessing institutions,using property, getting a job, providing incentives to work, building credit, and going to court. Read more about the methodology.

For detailed information on Germany, please visit the Women, Business and
the Law Germany

The FAO Gender and Land Rights Database

FAO logo.jpg

The FAO Gender and Land Rights Database contains country level information on social, economic, political and cultural issues related to the gender inequalities embedded in those rights. Disparity on land access is one of the major causes for social and gender inequalities in rural areas, and it jeopardizes, as a consequence, rural food security as well as the wellbeing of individuals and families.

Six categories

The Database offers information on the 6 following Categories:

  • National legal frame
  • International treaties and conventions
  • Customary law 
  • Land tenure and related Institutions
  • Civil society organizations
  • Selected Land Related Statistics

For detailed information on Germany, please visit the report on Germany in the FAO Gender and Land Rights Database.


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