Leading from Behind

Gender Equality in Germany During the Merkel Era
  • Co-Editor:
  • Sabine Lang with Petra Ahrens, Phillip M. Ayoub
  • Publisher: Routledge
  • Date: 2023
Leading from Behind

This book takes stock of German gender equality in several policy fields after 16 years of governments led by Angela Merkel and her conservative Christian Democratic Party (CDU). While maintaining its status as an economic engine in Europe, Germany has historically been a laggard in adopting gender equality measures. The European Gender Equality Index, however, now ranks Germany relatively high and shows substantial progress since 2005. While this has gone mostly unnoticed, Germany has passed far-reaching legislation in major policy fields relevant for gender equality.

Investigating the effects of Merkel’s tenure on gender equality, the chapters in this volume assess policy output and outcomes with a focus on internal power dynamics in Germany, as well as international and European Union (EU)-level pressures in the policy domains of political representation, LGBTI rights, migration, the labor market, and care. It examines how policy measures introduced by conservative governments affect gender norms and gender culture, and if they ultimately lead to effective implementation and greater equality. The book argues that Merkel often led “from behind,” indirectly facilitating claims-making instead of proactively pushing them. This nonetheless contributed to transformative change in Germany, by Merkel not blocking policy proposals and allowing civil society groups and rival parties to push many progressive gender policies.

Leading from Behind: Gender Equality in Germany During the Merkel Era is a fascinating read for students, researchers, and academics interested in European politics, political leadership, gender equality and LGBTI politics. This book was originally published as a special issue of German Politics.