In her first interview as family minister, Paus explains what she wants to change in her new position and why politics has a problem with sexism.
Lisa Paus will replace Anne Spiegel, who has resigned, as Minister for Family Affairs. In her first interview – which is not yet taking place in her ministerial office, but in the back building of the party headquarters – the Green politician says how personal experiences shape her politics.
You have been surprisingly nominated by the Greens as Minister of Family Affairs. How cordial were the chancellor’s congratulations?
Lisa Paus: Warmly North German (laughs). It was a good conversation, we have known each other for a long time.
You have repeatedly attacked Olaf Scholz, even accusing him of lying to the Bundestag as finance minister. Do you have something to get?
nr This is no longer a separate issue between us. We treat each other calmly and want to make successful policy for Germany.
You are a financial expert. What makes you a good family minister?
I got into politics because I want to make our society and coexistence fairer. 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 with personal experiences. And of course: I am familiar with the financial framework, I know that money is needed to get central projects out of the field, such as basic child safety. Now I am happy to be in the right place.
In what way?
The Ministry of Family is a central design department for our society. We need to invest more in social cohesion – which starts with the family and continues with the promotion of democracy or participation opportunities for young people and the elderly. We as a state have this responsibility. How we overcome crises is determined by opportunities for children, the state of families and the status of equality. We are still in Corona times, the last two years have been extremely difficult for families. Loneliness was a problem for many people, especially older people. That really hit the mark. We now have a war in the middle of Europe. Against this background, my future ministry has a duty to help people and us as a society emerge safe from this crisis.
Which projects are especially important to you?
In the first place, the basic safety of children. It is a central project in this election period and aims to significantly improve the lives of all children, especially children from low-income or no-income families. I want to take special care of the elderly. Unfortunately, loneliness is still a big problem for many older people. Therefore, in February the Ministry of Family launched the “Loneliness Competence Network”, to which I will pay special attention. The aim is to support and network those who want to get involved and work as volunteers. And then there are the caretakers of the family. We have envisaged in the coalition agreement the benefit of salary substitution for them. Those who care for loved ones, take time off to do so, or reduce working hours should be released. However, this salary substitution benefit still needs to be clearly anchored in the budget. In times when the crisis is already quite large, there is no need for existential fear, but for clarity and certainty that the care of relatives is financially secure. Nursing time should, should come.
Germany wants to spend 100 billion euros on the Bundeswehr – are you worried that such social reforms will be put behind the scenes?
I think everyone knows this should not happen. Especially now in crisis, it is about strengthening the resilience of society – and reviving social cohesion. Many of them are heavily burdened by rising energy and food prices. In any case, we have a big problem with child poverty in our country, which should not get worse in this situation. The most important is the immediate monthly bonus of children, which will be introduced in July and of course the basic safety of children …
… which comes exactly when?
in this legislature. My goal is to complete the work of the inter-ministerial group next year and start the legislative process. Basic child safety is an extensive project involving six ministries. This will be a major reform that will bring together and enhance family benefits. We want to put family support on a new footing – and provide better protection for children in every family constellation. Many parents are not married, but marriage is still tax-exempt. In my opinion, modern family policy should focus on the well-being of children, regardless of the constellation in which they grow up. This is why basic child safety is so important to a family friendly society.
Anne Spiegel did some preliminary work. What advice did you give along the way?
In the early months, Anne Spiegel launched many projects that will remain. Delivery is being made to the house.
And the mirrors themselves? Did she just disappear?
No, of course we are in touch. Concrete delivery is now done with the team. I am in the process of getting acquainted.
Does your predecessor’s resignation also indicate the limits of family and work compatibility?
This is an important topic, but with Anne Spiegel things were complex. I have a lot of respect that she resigned to prevent damage to the position.
You have a 13-year-old son whom you have only raised since the death of your husband. How do you achieve this?
Luckily I am not alone in this, but I have had a network of family, friends and professional services who have supported me for years. I set this up well and safe for my son.
Robert Habeck defended the most honest treatment with the double burden of family and work: It must be said that the “absolute claim of permanent compliance” cannot be fulfilled. Do you agree with the Minister of Economy?
Family and career compatibility is still a big issue in Germany. Other countries and societies show that there is another way. I am a big fan of the Borgen series. Although this is a fabrication, it reflects well the reality of life in Denmark, where even as prime minister it is possible to have a job nine to five with proper support in normal operations. There is still a lot to do in Germany, especially for women in leadership positions. But it certainly affects a lot of other people who work shifts, for example. I would like to do my part as Minister to ensure that we make significant progress.
What do you expect from employers?
We need more family-friendly working hours. A reduction in weekly working hours would be beneficial. It is primarily up to the collective bargaining partners to clarify this with each other. And there should be a right to work from home and employees have more words.
What contribution does the state make?
It is essential to further expand care throughout the day. Parents can only work well if they can rest and know that their children are well cared for.
Ms. Paus, cases of sexual assault have become known in the Left Party. How do you classify her as a Minister for Women?
The accusations leveled at the left are frightening. And yes: MPs and employees of 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 this?
Sexism is a structural problem – and that includes politics. It is important to talk openly about this. There should also be a clear condemnation of the perpetrators. And we need appropriate preventive structures.
What are you thinking about?
When I joined the Greens, there was a case in my national association. As a result, we set up the ombudsman’s office and other structures. It was thunderous then, but things really changed after that. There should be independent contact points for people who have had such experiences. And: In my opinion, anyone who abuses power in this way and commits sexual violence is not fit to continue to bear political responsibility.
This article first appeared on waz.de.
More articles from this category can be found here: Politics