Gabriele Stauner
DR GABRIELE STAUNER MEP

Political Development

Party Affiliation

Profession/ Current priorities

Political Aims/ Priorities/ Assessments




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[ European Commission, DG V ]

© April 2001

European Database: Women in Decision-Making

Dr Gabriele Stauner MEP

Political Development

1. What made you decide to go into politics?
I was always interested from hearing my parents speak about the Hungarian Uprising when I was about 7 or 8 years old. I had a friend who was from West Berlin - a divided city at that time. The feeling was that these things were bad for society and I shared that view.

2. Do / Did you have a role model?
Not politicians, but when I was young I admired Berta von Suttner, the organiser of the International Conference of Women against War, and Rosa Luxemburg - even though I am from a Christian background. I also admired Albert Schweitzer and the first UN High Commissioner for Refugees - Fridtjof Nansen.

3. Is there a tradition of political involvement / policy making in your family?
No. My parents were affected by the war and felt very strongly that politics was a nasty business, and that politicians were not to be trusted. I felt that this might not be totally true.

4. Were you involved in political grassroots activities before your involvement in party politics? E.g. in a citizen's rights, parents or other initiative? If so, in which function, in which institution and when did your political career begin? What were the most important experiences you had? What made you decide to move from grassroots to party politics?
Although I was the spokesperson for my class at school, and the 'tutor' for the student house in Munich, it was when I went to work in the office of the Ministry of Social Affairs, finally becoming p.a. to the Secretary of State, that I saw how it worked, noticed that all the decisions were made by men, and thought that I could do it better. During my work for the Permanent Representation of Germany in Geneva, I was elected president of the staff association for three years. My political career began when I moved back to my family home in a small community and started working actively for my party, the Christian Socialist Union (CSU), progressing from local to Regional Board.

5. Were there disruptions in your political career path? If so, what were they?
None.

6. Were there disruptions in your biography that have had an impact on your political career?
No, not really.

7. How and why did your objectives change during your political career?
In general, they did not change but I had to learn to make compromises.

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Party Affiliation

1. What was your motivation to join a political party?
I always wanted to do something useful for society, especially to avoid injustices in all fields, and I was fed up with people who only complained about politics but didn't do anything to change things.

2. Which party do you belong to? Since when?
The Christian Socialist Union which I joined in 1986.

3. Does your party have en equal opportunities regulation?
No. It is not obligatory but there is a sentence in the party's rules which states that on local and regional Boards there should be at least 1 woman. It is not a requirement.

4. Which function/office 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 office?
Although I joined the party in 1986, I was not active as I took up a post at the permanent representation of West Germany to the UN in Geneva. I stood for the Regional Board of the party in 1991 when a male colleague suggested that a woman was needed.

5. Did you have mentors within your party?
Perhaps -- but then I wouldn't know them.

6. Did you ever change party affiliation?
No.

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Profession/ Current priorities

1. How does your profession relate to your political work?
Very strongly. Before becoming an MEP, I worked as a civil servant, specialising in employment law, workers' rights, and social law.

2. What kind of vocational training, degrees or other professional qualification do you have?
I am a lawyer by profession and have degrees in English, French and Russian.

3. In what kind of jobs did you work?
I started in the Bavarian Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs, then joined the German Foreign Office, and returned to the Bavarian Ministry for Federal and European Affairs and the Bavarian State Chancellery.

4. Are you linking both your professional and your political career?
Yes - as I have described.

5. In which areas do you see your special competencies?
Labour and Social Law, promotion of women's rights, relations with the Russian Federation.

6. Which are your political priorities?
Workers' rights and equal opportunities for women, fight against injustice, peaceful relations with Russia.

7. What are your main fields of action?
I am a member of the Committee on Budgetary Control because I realised that that is key to other decisions. Taxpayers have a right that their money is well spent.

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Political Aims/ Priorities/ Assessments

1. Which objectives would you like to achieve through your political work?
I am a convinced European but I recognise that the citizens of Europe feel apart from the European processes and need help to see the benefits of the Union. I also recognise that there has been corruption in the Commission and that there is a great need for transparency and more democratic processes internally.

2. How and why did your objectives change during your political career?
No. I tried to keep them unchanged.

3. Do equal opportunity strategies - in your opinion - have an impact in your country in the promotion of women in decision-making? (quota, EO legislation etc. please specify)
Yes, without any doubt!

4. Did you benefit from these strategies? How do you judge these strategies?
Not directly, but in some situations these strategies were quite helpful. I found it a long route and think it would have helped to have had connections in politics from the beginning. I have always been trying to convince by means of knowledge and ability and thus trying to be a role model for other women; I also tried to nominate women for decision-making positions.

5. Do you see direct or indirect discrimination in conventional policy making? What is it that keeps women from committing themselves to politics?
I think that there is no direct discrimination as the men try to behave legally. However I think there is indirect discrimination arising from the attitudes of men and the strength of their networks. They do not think of proposing a woman for a role -'What about her husband and children?'

6. What are the major obstacles that women need to overcome in order to participate in political decision-making?
Women are too modest and need to have more confidence. They need education to encourage them to come forward, and to create their own networks. It is not easy to combine family life with the long hours of political life. And women often only start their political careers later in life, and then have the problem of not being able to rely on a continuous career.

7. What obstacles did you have to overcome in your own career?
I had a daughter as an older mother, without a husband and with very little support. I now regret that because of the need to continue to earn a living I could not take the allowed time off after her birth but went straight back to work. Although she was well looked after, I hope that she has not suffered. I never stopped work for family reasons but I insist on fitting my working life as a politician round my child's needs, and leave meetings at the time I have specified, to put her to bed. I feel strong enough to do that now that I am older. The biggest obstacle in my political career is the fact that I started late and professional knowledge and experience is not being acknowledged as much as it should be. Nevertheless I am convinced that a politician should first of all learn how to make his or her living by means of a "normal job".

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