What makes Dresden the most ‘woman-friendly’ city in Germany? The Local takes a look.
A study of 77 cities across Germany found that Dresden was the top place to live for women when it came to measures like income equality and gender violence.
Focus magazine worked with social researchers to compare factors such as income inequality, career opportunities, rates of gender violence and recreational activities.
Women in Dresden earn 92 percent of what men make, whereas the national average is 78.4 percent.
The Saxon state capital also had a comparatively low rate of rape and sexual assaults against women.
The fact that Dresden came out on top for women may come as a surprise to some in contrast to its reputation in recent years of being a flash point for intolerance: It is the founding city of the anti-Islam Pegida movement, attracting thousands of protesters to its Monday rallies there.
“I think it’s mostly just surprising to me. In a good way, though,” American expat and Dresden resident Angelica Remaley told The Local in reaction to the city’s top placement.
“It would suck to be in a city as a foreigner, with all the hurdles I already have to jump because of that, and have it be compounded with misogyny.”
Dresden’s history as part of former socialist East Germany (DDR) during the Cold War may have something to do with its high marks in the study. Chancellor Angela Merkel – the first female leader of Germany – herself grew up in the East, after all.
Because the DDR had full employment, women were an active part of the workforce and robust childcare programmes for small children helped support two-income households.
Abortion rights were also more generous than in the West, where areas like Bavaria – still largely Roman Catholic – held more tightly to religious strictures.
Other former East German cities that performed well in the ranking were Jena at third place and Leipzig at fourth place.
Surprisingly though, the national capital of Berlin in the east came in at tenth place and fell behind the Bavarian capital of Munich at sixth place.
Still, the city that was rated the very worst for women was Ludwigshafen in southwestern Germany, having the lowest rate of women in the workforce and the highest rate of crimes against women.
One stigma that seems to persist more so in the former West than in the East is that women should halt their careers when they have children. A study last year found that while some 58 percent of women in the former DDR were permanently employed, 51 percent of women in the former West could say the same.
Experts attributed this gap to a stronger culture of women in the West leaving the job market to stay at home with their kids.
Remaley, 26, who works in schools as an English teaching assistant, said she has not observed this attitude among her colleagues in Dresden.
“I don’t get that sense at all… There are incredible benefits for maternity leave, but the Kitas [pre-schools] from what I can tell are also booming,” she told The Local, explaining that even when Kita workers have gone on strike, the children’s mothers still show up for work.
“[Teachers] walked out recently and all of a sudden our school was crawling with non-school aged children hanging with their moms (the teachers, of course) for the day.”
Remaley, who has previously lived in Heidelberg and briefly in Hamburg, said that certain differences between East and West can still be observed today.
“I feel like we kind of do things differently here over in the East, so maybe it does make sense,” that Dresden is on top, she said. “The people seem more open and kinder and maybe there is a correlation there.”