In her first interview as Family Secretary, Bowes explains what she wants to change in her new position and why politics has a problem with sexism.
Lisa Bowes will replace Anne Spiegel, who has resigned, as Minister for Family Affairs. In her first interview – which has not yet taken place in her ministerial office, but in the back building of the party headquarters – the green politician tells how personal experiences shape her politics.
You have been surprisingly nominated by the Green Party as Minister of Family Affairs. How sincere is the advisor’s congratulations?
Lisa pause: Warmly northern Germany (laughs). It was a good conversation, we’ve known each other for a while.
She has repeatedly attacked Olaf Schultz, accusing him of lying to the Bundestag as finance minister. Do you have anything to take back?
No, this is no longer a private issue between us. We treat each other in a comfortable way and want to make a successful policy for Germany.
You are a financial expert, what makes you a good family minister?
I entered politics because I want to make our society and our coexistence more just. The fact that so many children in Germany grow up in poverty, but also the question of how we want to shape our democratic coexistence – this has been on my mind for years. Of course, I also contribute personal experiences. And of course: I’m familiar with the financial framework, and I know the money is needed to start central projects like basic child insurance. Now I am glad to be in the right place.
In which way?
The Family Ministry is a central design department for our community. We must invest more in social cohesion – which begins with the family and continues to promote democracy or opportunities for participation for young people and the elderly. We as a country bear this responsibility. How we overcome crises is determined by the opportunities available to children, the state of the family, and the state of equality. We are still in Corona times, the past two years have been very difficult for families. Loneliness has been a problem for many, especially the elderly. This really hit the mark now we have a war in Central Europe. Against this background, my mission in my future ministry is to help ensure that people and we as a society emerge from this crisis safely.
What projects are of particular interest to you?
In the first place, basic child security. It is a central project in this election period and aims to significantly improve the lives of all children, especially children from families with little or no income. I also want to take special care of the elderly. Unfortunately, loneliness is still a huge problem for many seniors. Therefore, in February, the Ministry of the Family launched the “Unit Competence Network”, which I will pay special attention to. The aim is to support and connect those who wish to participate and volunteer. Then there are the family caregivers. The coalition agreement provided for the advantage of substitution of remuneration for them. Those who take care of loved ones, take time off to do so or reduce their working hours should be exempted. However, the pay substitution feature has yet to be clearly fixed in the budget. In times when the crisis is already great, existential fears are not needed, but for clarity and certainty that caring for relatives is financially secure. Nursing time is required, it must come.
Germany wants to spend 100 billion euros on the Bundeswehr – are you worried that such social reforms will be delayed?
I think everyone knows this shouldn’t happen. Especially now in crisis, it is about strengthening society’s resilience – and revitalizing social cohesion. Many are bearing heavy burdens due to high energy and food prices. In any case, we have a big problem with child poverty in our country, which in this case should not get worse. Most important is the instant monthly children’s bonus, which will be offered in July, and of course the basic child security …
… who comes and when exactly?
in this legislature. My goal is for us to finish the work of the interministerial working group next year and begin the legislative process. Basic Child Security is a large-scale project involving six ministries. This will be a major reform that will bring together and improve family benefits. We want to put family support on new grounds – and better protect children in every family constellation. Many fathers are unmarried, but marriage can still have tax advantages. In my opinion, modern family policy should focus on the welfare of children, no matter what constellation they grew up in. This is why basic child security is so important to a family-friendly society.
Anne Spiegel did some preliminary work. What advice did she give you along the way?
In the first few months, Anne Spiegel launched several projects that will survive. Delivery is done with home.
And reverse itself? Did she just disappear?
No, of course we are in touch. Concrete is now being delivered with the team. I am in the process of acquaintance.
Does the resignation of your predecessor show the limits of compatibility between family and work?
This is an important topic, but with Anne Spiegel things were complicated. I respect very much that she announced her resignation to prevent damage to the position.
You have a 13-year-old son that you have been raising on your own since your husband’s death. How do you manage this?
Fortunately, I am not alone in this, but I have a network of family, friends, and professional services that have supported me for years. I set this up well and safe for my son.
Robert Habeck advocated a more honest approach to the double burden of family and work: it must be said that the “absolute demand for permanent conformity” could not be fulfilled. Do you agree with the Minister of Economy?
Compatibility between family and job is still a big problem in Germany. Other countries and societies are showing that there is another way. I’m a huge fan of the Borgen series. Although this is a fiction, it reflects the reality of life in Denmark well, where it is even possible as Prime Minister to get a 9-5 job with proper support in normal operations. There is still a lot to be done in Germany, especially for women in management positions. But of course it also affects many other people who work shifts, for example. I would like to do my part as Minister to ensure that significant progress is made.
What do you expect from employers?
We need more family-friendly working hours. It would be beneficial to reduce the weekly working hours. It is primarily up to the collective bargaining partners to make this clear with each other. There should be a right to work from home and employees have a greater say.
What is the state contribution?
It is necessary to further expand the scope of all-day care. Parents can only function well if they can relax and know that their children are receiving good care.
Mrs. Bowes, cases of sexual assault have become known in the Left Party. How do you classify her as Minister of Women’s Affairs?
The accusations to the left are frightening. And yes: deputies and officials from various parliamentary groups in the Bundestag have repeatedly raised the issue of sexism and abuse of power. This applies to all parties.
How do you explain that?
Sexism is a structural problem – and this includes politics. It is important to talk openly about this. There must also be a clear condemnation of the perpetrators. We need appropriate protective structures.
What are you thinking?
When I joined the Green Party, there was a case in my National Assembly. As a result, we created the ombudsman office and other structures. It was really loud at the time, but things really changed after that. There should be independent points of contact for people with such experiences. W: In my opinion, anyone who abuses power in this way and uses sexual violence is not appropriate to continue bearing political responsibility.
This article first appeared on waz.de.
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