German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday described herself as a feminist, saying her position on equality between men and women had developed over the years.
“Essentially, it’s about the fact that men and women are equal, in the sense of participation in society and in life in general. And in that sense I can say, ‘yes, I’m a feminist’,” Merkel told reporters after a meeting with Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
“For me, the word ‘feminism’ is linked to a specific movement which has fought a great deal to put these issues on society’s agenda,” said Germany’s first woman leader.
It is the first time that the 67-year-old — who is scheduled to step down following a general election later this month after 16 years in power — has spoken so overtly about an issue that in the past she has been more cagey about.
In the past, “I was a bit shyer when I said it. But it’s more thought-out now. And in that sense, I can say that we should all be feminists,” she said.
“I must say, however, that something has changed in our country, well, in Germany it has,” she continued.
“I wouldn’t have noticed 20 years ago if a panel discussion had been all men. I no longer think that’s OK. There’s something missing,” Merkel said.
On Tuesday, Merkel lauded her CDU party’s candidate Armin Laschet as the best choice to succeed her, as polls showed the gaffe-prone Rhinelander still trailing badly ahead of this month’s election.
Laschet, the chancellor candidate for Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU bloc, was long the favourite to be the next German leader, but his ratings have plummeted following a series of missteps.