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Speech by GDR Minister President Otto Grotewohl: "For the Happiness of Our Mothers and Children" (September 27, 1950)

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The concern of the government of the German Democratic Republic also extends to our women in the countryside. Through systematic schooling, they must become prepared to participate in the democratic rebuilding of our administration and in social life to a significantly greater extent than they have thus far. It is therefore necessary to appoint more women to the leadership of state-owned farms and machine loan stations, and to entrust them with responsible tasks. The many single women farmers also deserve our help and support. In their work accomplishments, they by no means lag behind men, and the success they have achieved is proof of their professional and human abilities.

The law therefore stipulates that communal institutions, such as laundry facilities, sewing rooms, and day-care facilities for children, must be established to relieve the burden on female agricultural workers and women farmers.

Single women farmers with many children, on whose farm no additional persons capable of working are present, enjoy special privileges. To that end, the relevant directives will be passed by the Ministry for Agriculture and Forestry within one month. The government believes that the best way to express its gratitude for the great accomplishments achieved to date in securing our nation’s food supply is to increase its support for female agricultural workers and women farmers to the highest justifiable level.

In realizing the equality of women, the participation of women in productive work is decisive. The work of women, too, is the prerequisite for the prosperity and happiness of humankind. It is the prerequisite for a better life, and is thus also part of the struggle to establish the unity of Germany and consolidate peace.

Women are increasingly stepping out of the narrow household of their families. The personal household becomes the household of the state; the household of the state becomes the economic plan and its fulfillment.

All obstacles that have previously impeded the development of the powers of women will be eliminated. Only through economic freedom can women achieve political freedom and become equal members of society. This law gives German women this possibility. May they learn to use it to the blessing of their children, their families, their nation, and all of peace-loving humanity.

Source: Neues Deutschland, no. 227, September 28, 1950, pp. 1-3; reprinted in Dierk Hoffmann and Michael Schwartz, eds., Geschichte der Sozialpolitik in Deutschland seit 1945. Bd. 8: 1949-1961: Deutsche Demokratische Republik. Im Zeichen des Aufbaus des Sozialismus [History of Social Policy in Germany since 1945, Vol. 8: 1949-1961: German Democratic Republic. Under the Sign of the Build Up of Socialism]. Baden-Baden: Nomos, 2004, no. 8/42.

Translation: Thomas Dunlap

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