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).