Annette Schavan im Interview von Ring for Peace.
#RfPWomenFaithDiplomacy

Issue 1: trans­forming tomorrow

/ 1: Interview with Annette Schavan

"Strengthen the com­­­­­­­mitment of women at all levels"

Annette Schavan

The future of religions will be determined by how they integrate women, says Annette Schavan, former Federal Minister for Research and Education. The committed Catholic was also the Federal Republic’s ambassador to the Apostolic See. She was able to observe the first signs of reforms by Pope Francis up close.

An interview by Alexander Görlach 10/05/2020

Görlach: In the Corona crisis, female political leaders in New Zealand, Taiwan and Germany played a large and positive role. Isn’t this the time to take a closer look at the competence and leadership style of women, who are still being discriminated in many parts of the world?

Schavan: Yes, that is why it is great that Religions for Peace is making the role of women in global peace processes visible. Anyone who wants to promote peace must strengthen the commitment of women at all levels.

Görlach: In your experience: How do men and women differ in their leadership style?

Schavan: Above all, female leadership skills are characterized by perseverance, great patience and the ability to initiate change. Women do not exhaust themselves in grand gestures. They know that leadership should be thought for the long-term. It is interesting for me that Pope Francis has pointed out several times that it is important to set processes in motion, not to occupy spaces. This is exactly what women are particularly good at.

Görlach: How can the leadership qualities of women and men be synchronized with one another? What would a harmonious coexistence of female and male leadership look like?

Schavan: In my experience, mixed teams are particularly suitable for a management culture. Then the perspectives complement each other and, in the best case, the strengths are fully brought into effect. This is possible when there is respect for one another.

Görlach: It is still not easy for women today. As religious office holders, they may be frowned upon. But without them as organizers the religious communities would not be in good shape. How can discrimination against women in the field of religion be broken?

Schavan: José Casanova, a sociologist of religion in the USA, pointed out a few years ago that the achieved equality of men and women in religious communities will determine their relevance in the future. My succinct answer is therefore: if a religious community does not understand this fact, then its relevance will dwindle massively in this 21st century.

„In my experience, mixed teams are particularly suitable for a management culture. Then the perspectives complement each other and, in the best case, the strengths are fully brought into effect. This is possible when there is respect for one another.”

Annette Schavan

Görlach: During your time as ambassador to the Apostolic See, a woman was entrusted with a leadership role in the Vatican for the first time. How did you experience this timid opening?

Schavan: In the diplomatic corps at the Apostolic See there were temporarily 14 women (out of 80 resident ambassadors) from different regions of the world. The experiences that I had in Rome during the 4 years were completely positive. This aspect was present in the Vatican, especially since none of us wanted to become “cardinal”.

Görlach: The subject of abuse of women under the guise of religion has a sad urgency. How can the abuse of power by male, religious leaders against women, and of course against children and young people, be counteracted?

Schavan: The first step is the dismantling of clericalism, because the associated exaggeration of religious offices is a gateway for abuse in all its forms. The expectation of accountability and transparency in the institution of the church must be met and administrative jurisdiction must be introduced.

Görlach: What is your outlook for the world in the 21st century? In the end, how will women be anchored in religion, politics and diplomacy and what positive changes will this have brought about?

Schavan: For me, the 20s of this century are in the foreground. It is still difficult to predict where the world is going. According to the sociologist Andreas Reckwitz we are witnessing the end of illusions in politics, economy and culture. This corresponds to the development of new authoritarian and nationalist structures. The story of freedom, which we believed 30 years ago to be a global self-runner, is apparently stalling. That is why we will have to convincingly stand up for the ideas of freedom, respect and equality in the global competition of value systems. Thus, it is desirable for the religions to become pioneers in this regard

Short Biography

Annette Schavan, *1955, worked in politics and diplomacy for 25 years, including as Federal Minister for Education and Research in Germany (2005-2013) and as Germany's ambassador to the Apostolic See (2014-2018). Today she works in foundations and teaches as a visiting professor at Shanghai International Studies University.

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1: Interview with Annette Schavan

The future of religions will be determined by how they integrate women, says Annette Schavan, former Federal Minister for Research and Education. The committed Catholic was also the Federal Republic’s ambassador to the Apostolic See.

2: Interview with Margot Käßmann

Margot Käßmann has retired from many offices. Her engagement with Ring for Peace is an exception. Alexander Görlach talks with the former regional bishop about peace, women, fundamentalism and why the assembly in Lindau can make a difference.

3. Interview with Margrit Wettstein

Margrit Wettstein works for the Nobel Prize Museum in Stockholm. Only few people know better than her, which women ever received the Nobel Prize and which fates are behind these women. Alexander Görlach asked Margrit Wettstein to tell us, who she thinks are the most important award winners.

4. Interview with Azza Karam

Learn why Prof. Azza Karam thinks that it is inevitable for the UN to work with religious leaders and movements. And find out what challenges Azza Karam identifies for women, if they pursue religious leaderships.

5. Interview with Gunnar Stålsett

The ecumenical unity of the churches depends in particular on the question of the extent to which women and men are equal, explains former Bishop Gunnar Stålsett. Stålsett believes that for women in the Orthodox Church to have more rights, a religious leader is needed who is willing to risk his own future for the future of the Church.

6. Interview with Sima Samar

She was the first Minister of Women’s Affairs in Afghanistan after the Taliban lost power in 2002. Ever since, for many women in Afghanistan almost everything changed, as Sima Samar recapitulates in this interview.