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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: November 2010

4 - The Emergence of the Women's Union, 1969–1982


The late 1960s and early 1970s were a time of change in German politics. New social movements, including the women's movement, entered the political arena. The influence of these changes on the SPD has been noted frequently, particularly as the SPD struggled to come to terms with the Green Party. However, the CDU was also affected by the advent of New Left politics, including the women's movement.

One of the most important effects of the politics of the late 1960s on the CDU was the rise of the Women's Union. This internal organization had been present since the party's founding, but had served primarily as a social organization. The advent of the women's movement helped politicize the Women's Union. Christian Democratic women did not adopt the positions of the women's movement. Rather the women's movement provided the opportunity for the Women's Union to begin to advocate for its own positions on women's issues within the CDU.

The rise of the women's movement coincided with some important changes within the CDU. Helga Wex, a new energetic leader, became chair of the Women's Union in 1971. Turmoil within the CDU and a dramatic increase in female membership both presented an opportunity for the Women's Union to become much more prominent within the party.

The Women's Union's influence on the CDU is apparent in a new work-family policy, child-raising money, which advocated paying mothers who remained home to raise their children.

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