Profession/ Current priorities
Political Aims/ Priorities/ Assessments
© Jan 2001
My "home" are the "Kinderfreunde" - an NGO that aims to create a better life for children. I always wanted to make a contribution to the development of the society, in particular for disadvantaged children. I started to work as an employee in a home for children, eventually became the director there, then I organised the educational work for the "Kinderfreunde" association in Lower Austria.
2. Do/did you have a role model?
Johanna Dohnal, the former Austrian Minister of Women Affairs, also Ms. Wittowitz-Müller, the Chairwomen of the Kinderfreunde in Lower Austria and Bruno Kreisky (former Austrian Chancellor)....
3. Does political involvement or policy making have a tradition in your family?
I come from an working class family, but my parents were not interested in politics.
4. Have you been engaged in political grassroots activities before your involvement in party politics - e.g. in a citizens' rights, parents or other initiatives? What were important experiences you made?
My very first political involvement was triggered by the public discussion about the "Zwentgendorf" nuclear power station. My commitment to children began with my first job in a special school for deaf children and I decided to become a member of the "Kinderfreunde". In 1990 I was elected as member of the Local Council in Percholdsdorf.
5. Where there disruptions in your political career path and why?
No, not really my career started with the Kinderfreunde and my work for this association in the in the local council ... and now I am a member of "Nationalrat", the national parliament of Austria. I my opinion I have done a good job at the local level, I have been successful and always highly motivated. Getting involved in formal policy making was an avenue for me to transfer my ideas to another level.
6. Did your objectives change during your political career?
No, my commitment was always focusing on children's problems. Over time I acquired a lot of experience with the problems of deaf children. I am also interested in women's affairs and equal opportunities, though I don't see myself as a "hardliner", I want to work in consensus with men.
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Since 1990 I am actively involved in the political process, e.g. I became member in a municipal council. In 1984 I had joined the SPÖ having been encouraged and motivated by a circle of friends which were interested in political live. Before I have been active in a catholic youth group.
2. Does your party have an equal opportunities regulation?
It has. The aim is to implement the requirements of our 40% quota by 2002. Right now the quota stands at 30%.
3. Which function/offices did you hold in your party at the beginning? How long after your joining the party was that? How did you get into running for an office?
As I said, in 1990 I was elected a member of the Local Council of Guntramsdorf. In 1993 I took on the responsibility for its cultural department (Kulturreferat) and in 1995 I became the "executive director" of the Local Council (Geschäftsführende Gemeinderätin), responsible for culture, schools and kindergartens. Since 1999 I am a member of the National assembly (Nationalrat).
4. Did you have mentors within your party?
My husband who is not party member and Ms. Wittowitz-Müller, the mayor of Guntramsdorf.
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I am a teacher. Since I became a member of national assembly he had to give three major speeches in the plenary. My experience as a teacher helped me to cope with these challenges, but also in my daily work as a politician.
2. What kind of qualifications do you have?
I am a teacher of German and arts. I also have a degree as special school teacher of the deaf. My first job was in fact in a special school. Then I found subsidised employment in an NGO. After that I have worked in an adult education institution (VHS Mödling) for half a year. My target group were young people. I have also been employed in the Centre for Social Pedagogy in Vienna (Wiener Sozialpädagogischen Zentrum). Since 1983 I am teaching in a school for deaf children in Lower Austria.
3. Are you linking both your professional and your political career?
Yes, but I had to reduce my teaching assignment to five hours a week, always Tuesdays from 8-13. To be a member in the national assembly is really full time job.
4. Which are your political priorities?
To increase employment opportunities for young people and older workers, women in particular. Transport policies or merely alternative public transport systems, saving and recycling of natural resources, the enlargement of the European Union...
5. In which areas do you see your special competencies?
My strength is my ability to motivate others, I have good communication skills, I am tolerant and good at consensus building and very persistent.
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I would like to motivate people for active civic involvement, to mobilise the society. I would like the petition for women affairs (Leitantrag) succeed and create equal opportunities for women, I mean equal treatment for women in daily live, including an independent income for women.
2. Did your objectives change during your political career?
No, they did not. Yet, they have become more numerous. I have broadened my horizons and now there is a whole spectrum of political themes I feel committed to - women, youth, elderly people, transport problems...
3. Do equal opportunities strategies in your opinion have an impact in your country in the promotion of women in decision-making- please specify?
A quota is not enough. It is necessary to improve women's rights, to embark on awareness raising for this issue at levels.
4. What are the major obstacles that women need to overcome?
They represent more than 50% of the population, but self-determination for women has not been achieved.
5. What obstacles have you had to overcome in your own career?
I did not experience any discrimination at the local level, but on next level, the so-called the "Bezirksebene" (sub-regional) where I was running for a mandate that was crucial for my career. That was a very hard time for me. In the National Assembly, there are no direct discriminations, but I had to build up my own network since men's networks of information are hard to get in.
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