Since 30 years the Women Divorced in the GDR are fighting to regain an immense part of their pension rights requirement (1/3rd) which had been denied to them after the unity by the German Pension Transfer Act without an equivalent. This was a political decision, simply because the GDR had provided a guarantee that a person’s pension will be kept on an stable level when reducing working time per week or totally for some years to serve children, families and relatives with their care work at home. This was a measure against discrimination to avoid discrimination of mainly women and value care work. West-Germany until 1990/1992 did not at all acknowledge care work in pension. A pension as soon one reduces work hours decreases disproportionally by the formula in use. The women, than about 700.000, today many had passed away, organised themselves, from 1999 on in an Association, went through all existing legal remedies and political lobbying. 2011 they submitted by boeker-consult a complaint before the UN human rights treaty of the Convention Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (Art 11 and 16 CEDAW) and went through some procedures. 2017 the UN CEDAW urgently called the German Government to repay, pay on top and provide a compensation scheme for the women. Shortly after the consultant could convince the Social Democratic group in parliament to open procedures to find a solution according to UN obligations. Another 5 years passed and the half solution is stuck in the making. One does not know, if it will be decided. The fight goes on. Soon in August the women will collaborate with an artist to also gain once more support and make people aware on their issue as a global issue.
Politics and all must learn a lesson from this fight for rights and accountability of governance. If politics does not correct this injustice, they can take away pension from anyone anytime.
Why was it done to this women? Many think, because an equal working and paid women in GDR was an anti-model for the West German, predominantly male politicians in parliament. So, they punished the women. And beyond, they had intended to continue with the exploitation of women in domestic or public unpaid or underpaid care work. Even knowing, this leads to poverty of women in the phases after retirement.
Patriarchy globally lives from exploitation of women in unpaid or underpaid care work. This needs to be change. Women’s work and care work in societies must according to human rights and the knowledge we gained through COVID be paid decent and equal and be valued. The exploitation needs to be ended. Poverty as a result of lifelong work for life is no choice.