Life In Berlin: International Women's Day In Berlin

Mar 10, 2017

International Women’s Day is a time to celebrate the achievements of women across the world; but some also use the day to agitate for change. There were protests globally and I caught up with some demonstrators at a march in Berlin.

The mood is festive as a crowd begins to gather at Hermannplatz in Neukölln. There are women with bullhorns giving rallying cries. Musicians perform their feminist anthems on stage.

People, including one woman who has painted her face in what she described as a 'warrior's mask,' march to protest in favor of women's rights on International Women's Day on March 8, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. The march comes on the heels of a new law passed by the Bundestag that will require Germany's 100 biggest companies to have a quota of at least 30% women on their governing boards.
Credit Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Freddi is 37 years old and from Berlin. She holds up a sign that says, "Life goals, no need for women’s marches."

"I actually got kind of mad at the idea that I have to make a sign to talk about this issue. I was like, it would be better if I didn’t have to make a sign," Freddi says.

She works in the film industry and the lack of women writing and directing productions frustrates her.

Anna chats with a group of women under an umbrella. Anna says that she is "quite old" but the white jacket she wears shows off a lot of attitude. The words "radical feminist" are emblazoned on the back.

"Quite a lot of people experience that it’s necessary to become radical again; because German women think they are equal, and we really haven’t established equality." 

Germany has one of the highest gender wage gaps in Europe, with women earning 21.6 percent of what men earn. While there have been efforts to close this gap with legislation, like gender quotas on some executive boards, there is a sense of frustration.

Some organizers in the U.S. dubbed this International Women’s Day "A Day Without a Woman" and asked women to skip work and go on strike. As the march begins to progress down Kottbusser Damm, a woman’s black baseball cap catches my eye. It’s embroidered with the words "Make Feminism Great Again."

Clara, the 32 year old wearing the hat, says that she is searching for a new definition of feminism.

People march to protest in favor of women's rights on International Women's Day on March 8, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. The march comes on the heels of a new law passed by the Bundestag that will require Germany's 100 biggest companies to have a quota of at least 30% women on their governing boards.
Credit Sean Gallup/Getty Images

"Feminism needs to be also anti-capitalist and anti-racist. I am here to show my solidarity with all the women struggles in the world."

Esther is 22 years old and has a sign that says "Fight the Cis-stem."  It’s a play on words about how traditional gender roles can exclude transgender people from the conversation. Esther says you can see the future here, at this march.

"You can see it at the demonstration. Everything is so vivid and loud and colorful and people are connecting. I hope that it just continues in this way," says Esther.

Several thousand people have joined her.