Reconciliation of Family and Working Life in China and Germany

Event: Social Justice and Trade Unions

Work-life balance or reconciling a successful professional career with a rich family life is a topic of growing importance in both China and Germany. In the course of the opening of the travelling exhibition on the social history of Germany in Chengdu a roundtable discussion on the topic took place.

Photo::The experts on the topic: Dr. Christina Klenner, head of division gender research at the Institute of Economics and Social Research of the Hans-Böckler-Stiftung, and Xu Ping, chief editor of the magazine called Fen You.
Photo: The experts on the topic: Dr. Klenner, head of division gender research at the Institute of Economics and Social Research of the Hans-Böckler-Stiftung, and Xu Ping, chief editor of the magazine called Fen You.

During the discussion meeting, experts both from China and Germany gave an input on reconciliating of family and working life in each country. In Germany, there have been some great achievements during the last decades such as: The expansion of childcare, earlier return to work of women, parental benefits for fathers and the flexibility of work time through measures like the right of part time work. However, there are still problems in the German system, which were also discussed: the constantly high gender-pay-gap and the higher share of housework and parenting which women take over are only some of the points mentioned.

The Chinese situation has improved, too, but there is still an inequality that favors Chinese men. Men work in higher positions, have more chances of self-realisation and have better access to social security. One thesis for the Chinese case was that new laws are needed in order to tackle the problem properly.

During the discussion, the matter must also be viewed from a psychological and socio-cultural perspective with respect to the diverse psychological pressures that women, especially the ones of labour migrant families, are facing. It was stated that the problems of both countries seem comparable; the different situations however lead to different kinds of possible solutions. In the Chinese case, the promotion of rule of law by the central government was seen as a crux of the matter. It was stated that change in society and state laws are mutually dependent. In Germany, the social partners have a bigger role to play shaping debates and influencing policies on the topic.

The travelling exhibition was displayed at two locations in Chengdu. It was first shown at the municipal library of Chengdu. This is where the roundtable discussion and official opening took place. The travelling exhibition then moved to the Cultural Palace of the Workers in Chengdu, which is affiliated with the All-China Federation of Trade Unions of the Sichuan Province and close to universities.

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