WOMEN IN POLITIC
Ursula von der Leyen’s speech on the 1st March, 2022
….In these days, independent Ukraine is facing its darkest hour. At the same time, the Ukrainian people are holding up the torch of freedom for all of us. They are showing immense courage. They are defending their lives. But they are also fighting for universal values and they are willing to die for them. President Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people are a true inspiration….
Ursula von der Leyen
Ursula von der Leyen, née Ursula Albrecht, (born October 8, 1958, Brussels, Belgium), is a Belgian-born German politician who was the first woman to serve as Germany’s minister of defense from 2013 to July 2019 when she became the first woman to be elected president of the European Commission. In her life she has had to face many difficulties but she succeeded in and now she is a woman that has to take the most important decisions for the future of the European Union as we can see in these days.
Ursula was the daughter of German politician Ernst Albrecht, who had served as chief of cabinet at the Commission of the European Economic Community. She is a native speaker of German and French; she can speak English fluently, having lived for a combined five years in the United Kingdom and the United States. She lives with her family on a farm near Hanover where they keep horses. She is a keen equestrian and has been involved in competitive horseriding.
In 1977, she started studying economics at the University of Göttingen. At the height of the fear of communist terrorism in West Germany, she fled to London in 1978 after her family was told that the Red Army Faction (RAF) was planning to kidnap her due to her being the daughter of a prominent politician. She spent more than a year in hiding in London, where she lived with protection from Scotland Yard under the name Rose Ladson to avoid detection and enrolled at the London School of Economics. She returned to Germany in 1979 but lived with a security detail at her side for several years.
She studied economics (1977–80) at the Universities of Göttingen and Münster as well as at the London School of Economics but never graduated. Instead, she went into medicine and graduated (1987) from Hanover (Germany) Medical School (MHH). She worked as an assistant physician (1988–92) at the MHH’s gynecological clinic and in 1991 was awarded a doctorate in medicine.
In 1986, she married physician Heiko von der Leyen, a member of the von der Leyen family that made a fortune as silk merchants and was ennobled in 1786; her husband became a professor of medicine and the CEO of a medical engineering company. She met him at a university choir in Göttingen. They have seven children, born between 1987 and 1999 while her husband was working in Stanford on a scholarship. During the 90s, Ursula focused her time on being a housewife and paused her career, due to having such a big family and the societal expectation of the time that said she would be the care-giver.
They are called: David, 33, Sophie, 31, Donata, 28, twins Victoria and Johanna aged 26, Egmont, 22, and Gracia, 21. David is a Project Manager in Berlin, and Sophie has an IMDb profile. Donata seems to be a master’s student at Columbia university in New York while Victoria is a doctoral student focusing on religion.
After her return to Germany, she served as a faculty member (1998–2002) at the MHH’s department of epidemiology, social medicine, and health systems research. In addition, she earned a master’s degree (2001) in public health.
Ursula von der Leyen, who had joined the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in 1990, became involved in 1996 in the politics of Lower Saxony—the federal state her father had governed (1976–90). She held a series of local and state offices prior to her election in 2004 as a member of the CDU’s leadership committee. After the CDU won the federal elections in 2005, she was appointed minister of family affairs, senior citizens, women, and youth in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s first cabinet.
Among von der Leyen’s measures to address Germany’s low birth rate were the implementation of paid parental leave from work following the birth of a child and a massive expansion of child care facilities. In 2009 she was elected a member of the Bundestag (parliament) and became minister of labour and social affairs.
Women board quota
In 2013, von der Leyen unsuccessfully campaigned for a statutory quota for female participation in the supervisory boards of companies in Germany, requiring company boards to be at least 20% female by 2018, rising to 40% by 2023.
In 2015, researchers collaborating at the VroniPlag Wiki reviewed von der Leyen’s 1991 doctoral thesis and alleged that 43.5% of the thesis pages contained plagiarism, and in 23 cases citations were used that did not verify claims for which they were given. Multiple notable German academics publicly accused von der Leyen of intended plagiarism. The Hannover Medical School conducted an investigation and concluded in March 2016 that while the thesis contains plagiarism, no intention to deceive could be proven. The university decided not to revoke von der Leyen’s medical degree.
When the term of European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker was scheduled to end in November 2019, and his replacement was to be selected by the European Council—the heads of government of the 28 member countries of the EU..
Most surprising, however, was the nomination of von der Leyen to succeed Juncker as president of the European Commission. Although she was the daughter of an esteemed European Community official, von der Leyen herself was seen as something of an outsider to the Brussels establishment, and, despite the fact that she had received the endorsement of the centrist and liberal parliamentary blocs, there remained doubts about the likelihood of her confirmation.
On July 16, 2019, von der Leyen was narrowly confirmed, receiving 383 of 747 votes (with 374 needed). The following day she resigned as Germany’s defense minister and was succeeded by Kramp-Karrenbauer. Von der Leyen was due to replace Juncker on November 1, but disagreements over the makeup of her cabinet delayed the transfer of power by one month. On December 1 she became the first woman to serve as president of the European Commission.