Archiv für den Monat: Juli 2017

Emotion Award – A Prize for women who inspire

By Monika Griefahn  (photographs: Franziska Krug/Getty Images for Emotion.award)

Dr. Alexandra Widmer? Heike Langguth? Annette Pascoe? None of them are names necessarily known to everyone. And yet all of these women have recently received the Emotion Award in Germany. It’s an award that recognised women who inspire others. For instance, the category „Women in Leadership“ is given to women who „promote a special corporate culture and redefine employee development as well as to women who managed to made a name for themselves in a male domain, thereby paving the way for other women.“ In general, any female company director is eligible, and it is for this reason that I am especially happy for the lesser known laureates. For the award means that they are being creative and achieve a lot in their respective areas of responsibility without being the subject of much publicity.

However, the special award was given to a woman whose name has been known for decades in German politics: Rita Süssmuth. I worked with her for years in the Interparliamentary Union and therefore I know that she has always lobbied for equality. In her party, the German Christian Democratic Union (CDU), she fought for a women’s quota, which for the longest time must have been a rather frustrating debate within the party. In the 1980s she was the Federal Minister for Family Affairs and the President of the Bundestag for ten years. Now she is 80 years old and she is as committed as ever.

And there is another beautiful aspect to the award: while it’s all about women it’s not a purely female event. Around one fifth of the audience consisted of men, and men also were part of the jury deciding whom to honour with the awards. The presenters of the awards included GErman television personalies Johannes B. Kerner and Jörg Thadeusz. It’s great because it illustrates that more and more men are ready to honour the lifetime achievements of women and that individual and strong women’s biographies are becoming more and more mainstream. The fact that the magazine „emotion“ is keeping women’s issues at the forefront of the public debate, even though it currently may not be in very great demand, is very important.

Apart from the „Women in Leadership“ category – which, among others, was given to Heike Langguth, director of the riot police of the federal state of Thuringia – the Emotion Award is also awarded in the categories „Social Values“, „Special Team Award Hand in Hand“, „Entrepreneurs/Founders“, „Woman of the Hour“ and „Lifetime Achievement“ (Rita Süssmuth). It’s a worthwhile endeavour to read up on the 19 laureates, which anyone can do on the Emotion Award’s web site (in German).

Utopian ideas and clear outlines against political disillusionment

By Monika Griefahn

Already, the campaign for this year’s parliamentary elections in Germany is looming. In order to inspire citizens, and especially young people, to get involved with politics (again) the Friedrich Ebert foundation and our local Member of Parliament, Svenja Stadler from the Social Democratic Party (SPD), decided to organize an alternative talk show. The subject: “Talking to each other instead of complaining about one another – an alternative talk show on political disillusionment.“

Both the headline and the question of what exactly would be alternative about the event made me curious, so I decided to attend. The concept, as it turned out, was similar to that of the popular German television chat show “Hard But Fair”. The discussion, in the northern German town of Buchholz, was streamed live to the Internet, with viewers being able to contribute to the debate. However, the interconnection between the actual live debate and the online chat didn’t work out very well – the high number of verbal contributions on stage almost drowned out the live chat, all but turning the two into separate events.

Nevertheless, the discussion itself proved informative: Dr Matthias Micus of the Göttingen Institute for Democracy Research took the disillusionment of many citizens with politics, parties or politicians seriously. The dynamic, he said, had hollowed out the political parties as the most important pillar of the political system in Germany. As a result fewer and fewer eligible voters decided to lend their electoral support to the major people’s parties.

“Participation”, Micus said, “depends on interest, which in turn depends on the perceived effectiveness of one’s own actions.” Whenever people lost the belief that they could change or influence things, he added, participation waned. Although the overall level of voluntary engagement was on the rise, those who had already been sidelined could no longer be reached, even through new and unconventional instruments of participation. The resulting gap, Micus warned, was widening. On those occasions where people did end their personal passivity and were politically reactivated, they tended to do so in a pessimistic and distrustful manner. Micus then formulated a demand: “The established forces must better defend the political parties because they are filters against populism.”

In order to inspire people to become invested in politics again, Micus believes, political parties have to reach out to them and initially kindle their interest with non-political offerings and without any self-interest, thereby lowering psychological barriers. This, he said, could eventually pave the way towards more political engagement. At the same time Micus called on the major people’s parties to offer more utopias and visions: “Mobilisation is a result of clear political profiles and distinctiveness.”

So, how disillusioned is the population with regard to politics? The youngest member of the panel, Sophie Röhse from Buchholz youth council, said: “I do believe that there’s an interest in politics. But although it is very relevant to young people, they don’t tend to feel represented.” Even if this is the case, it means that there must be young people who actively get involved – otherwise, who will represent young people?

Indeed some participants of the discussion were not perceived as much as they could have been and also didn’t take part much in the debate – which, after all, is exactly what we don’t want. Young Sophie Röhse for example was hardly included in the conversation, and local politician Martin Gerdau also didn’t get the opportunity to contribute much. As mentioned above, the online chat also didn’t figure very prominently, and didn’t remain accessible for later reference.

The idea of an alternative chat show is a good one, and the concept may indeed become highly participative. However, the actual realisation is something that requires some more work.

Emotion Award – Preis für Frauen, die begeistern

Von Monika Griefahn (Fotos: Franziska Krug/Getty Images for Emotion.award)

Dr. Alexandra Widmer? Heike Langguth? Annette Pascoe? Das sind Namen, die man nicht unbedingt kennt, und dennoch sind diese Frauen jetzt mit dem Emotion Award ausgezeichnet worden. Bei diesem Preis geht es allgemein darum, Frauen zu würdigen, die begeistern. In der Kategorie „Frauen in Führung“ etwa wurden Frauen gesucht, „die eine besondere Firmenkultur fördern, die Mitarbeiterförderung neu definieren. Und Frauen, die sich in Männerdomänen einen Namen verschafften konnten, die den Weg für andere Frauen ebnen.“ Das kann grundsätzlich jede Firmenchefin sein, und darum freue ich mich sehr auch für die unbekannteren Preisträgerinnen. Denn die Auszeichnung bedeutet, dass sie in ihrem eigenen Verantwortungsbereich ohne viel Publicity kreativ arbeiten und Vieles leisten.

Den Sonderpreis bekam allerdings doch eine Frau, deren Namen man seit Jahrzehnten kennt: Rita Süssmuth. Ich habe mit ihr lange in der Interparlamentarischen Union zusammengearbeitet und weiß, dass sie sich immer für Gleichberechtigung eingesetzt hat. Sie hat in ihrer Partei der CDU für die Frauenquote gekämpft, was sicherlich lange Zeit eine eher frustrierende Auseinandersetzung in der Partei gewesen sein muss. Sie war in den 1980er Jahren Bundesfamilienministerin und zehn Jahre lang Präsidentin des Deutschen Bundestages. Jetzt ist sie 80Jahre alt und engagiert wie eh und je.

Und noch etwas ist schön an diesem Preis: Es geht um Frauen, aber es ist keine reine Frauenveranstaltung. Ins Publikum hatten sich vielleicht 20 Prozent Männer gemischt, und auch in der Jury entschieden Männer über die Preisvergabe mit. Zu den Laudatoren gehörten Johannes B. Kerner und Jörg Thadeusz. Das alles ist fein, denn es zeigt, dass immer mehr Männer Leistung und Lebenswerk von Frauen honorieren – dass eigene, starke Frauenbiografien selbstverständlicher werden. Dass die Zeitschrift „emotion“ das Frauenthema mit einer ehrenvollen Veranstaltung wie der Preisverleihung aufrechterhält, obwohl es derzeit vielleicht nicht so sehr Konjunktur hat, ist wichtig.

Der Emotion Award wird neben der Kategorie „Frauen in Führung“, wo unter anderem die oben genannte Heike Langguth als Leiterin der Bereitschaftspolizei Thüringen sich den Preis verdient hat, auch vergeben in den Kategorien „Soziale Werte“, „Team Sonderpreis Hand in Hand“, „Unternehmerinnen/Gründerinnen“, „Frau der Stunde“ und „Lebenswerk (Rita Süssmuth). Es lohnt sich, sich über die 19 Preisträgerinnen einmal genauer zu informieren – und das geht auf der Internetseite des Emotion Awards. Hier entlang!