Reconciling Work and Life - Experiences from Germany

Type of News Item: 
Title of News Item: 
Reconciling Work and Life - Experiences from Germany
WWS Worldwide
Name/Organization of Person Posting (optional): 
Ulrike Hoessle - WWS Worldwide

Many eloquently written books and a huge number of newspaper articles are describing the same big problem with having it all: workplaces are still designed for a breadwinner-homemaker model that is no longer an ideal or an option for most of us. But how can the paradigm shift happen to change this design—to allow real choices for women and men regarding work and family life? What ideas need to be transformed? What workplace policies are needed? What would work best?

Low birthrates in Europe created a situation that brought the relevant actors together: businesses, unions, governments, and civil society started to create initiatives and policies to adjust workplaces to today’s realities. But this has not happened in the U.S.

The following paper describes the long history of women as food providers, and the very short history of women as housewives and mothers. It discusses the downside of the traditional family model, and the current challenges of “having it all”—and it presents the successes and challenges Germany has experienced in its efforts to reconcile work and family life.