In Germany, retired women are the great sacrificed

At 81, Bavarian Helma Sick is still working. “More than ever,” she says. Financial advisor, she founded in 1987 Frau & Geld (woman and money), a consulting company that helps mothers in need when it comes time to retire. In more than thirty years, she received several thousand clients, most of whom, she explains from her practice in Munich, “in a desperate material situation. The pattern is immutable. Once they become mothers, the German women tend to give up their professional lives, however qualified they may be, and only return to work much later.” Because the social pressure remains strong. For the expert, the Nazi ideology of the “3K” (Kinder, Küche, Kirche, children, kitchen, church) still permeates the collective unconscious. And even if under the Merkel era, there was progress, in particular with the proliferation of nurseries and schools open all day, instead of mornings only, the very derogatory expressions of “Raben-Mutter” (mother crow) or “Karriere-Frau” (career woman) are far from belonging to the past.

As a result, the average pension, which is 1,200 euros for men, plummets to 728 euros for women. West German baby-boomers are particularly badly off. “They were pushed to stay at home, details Helma Sick. After the children, they took care of the elderly parents, did a little volunteering, sometimes resumed an activity, but in general on a part-time basis.” In the years of the economic miracle, Chancellor Adenauer did indeed cease to repeat that prosperity rhymed with a stay-at-home mother. We weren’t going to look like the women of the GDR, who “were forced to go to the factory”, she adds.

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