Smart Woman of Germany: Angela Merkel


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With women being the minority of leaders in the world today, it is crucial to recognize those strong women who have emerged as political and social figures.  These women serve as role models for Smart Girls because they have defied stereotypes and broken standards.  One of these women is Angela Merkel, Chancellor (head of government) of Germany.  Merkel has been Chancellor since 2005 and the leader of the conservative Christian Democratic Union party since 2000 and she is the first woman to hold either of these offices.  Following her election, Merkel was able to form a coalition between her Christian Democratic Union party, the Christian Social Union, the Social Democratic Party, and the Free Democratic Party.  One of Merkel’s priorities is to strengthen economic relations across the Atlantic Ocean, as the German economy has remained strong throughout recent economic crises.

In 2007, Angela Merkel was named President of the European Council and chaired the Group of 8 (G8) which is an international coalition that includes the United States.  Merkel is the second woman to have done so, after Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of Great Britain.  In fact, Merkel has often been compared to Thatcher as leaders of a conservative parties and both received degrees in natural sciences.  As Chair of the G8, Merkel was influential in the Treaty of Lisbon and the Berlin Declaration.  Merkel is not afraid to go against the majority, as she supported the 2003 U.S invasion of Iraq, is against inclusion of Turkey into the European Union, and has frequently voiced concern for Germany’s “overreliance” on energy from Russia.  She is a strong advocate for the dismantling of social and racial inequality, as evidenced by her receipt of Israel’s highest civilian award for her commitment to ending anti-Semitism.

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Merkel grew up in East Berlin, the daughter of a pastor (her father) and an English and Latin teacher (her mother).  During her school years, she was praised for her aptitude for science and mathematics, learned to speak Russian fluently, and received a doctorate in chemistry.  This is interesting because most political leaders of our times hold degrees in business, history, and politics, so one could argue that Merkel brings a unique perspective to European politics.  She is seen around the world as a highly influential leader and in 2012, Forbes named her as the world’s second most powerful person — the highest ranking ever achieved by a woman.

What makes Angela Merkel a true Smart Girl is that she is a strong leader and has shown a commitment to doing what she firmly believes is right and just.  She does not play politics, but rather, defies opposition and is not afraid to take charge.  She is truly a role model for Smart Girls everywhere.

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Kate Labonte

Katie joined SGG in 2013 and is the Executive Editor for Smart Mail, Women's News writer for the Smart Girls Guide, a blogger in Smart Girls Media Sisters, and mentor in the Smart Girls Mentorship program. She is a junior at Fordham University, where she is studying Political Science, Middle Eastern Studies, and Theology. She is currently spending a year at the London School of Economics, studying government and international history. Her smarts are in current affairs, international relations, history, women’s issues, and organizing. When she’s not working on Smart Mail over a cappuccino in London, she loves to read, travel, visit museums, cook, and practice yoga.