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Gender equality? Meet Germany’s first ‘men’s officer’

The position is held by Matthias Becker, who works seven hours each week in the city hall, speaking to local men about issues related to their gender.

The father of three wants to shatter cliches about gender, encouraging them to be more open about their emotions and take more responsibility for themselves, he told local broadcaster Bayerische Rundfunk.

“Men aren’t even trusted to get the right things at the shops,” he added.

Becker has worked for years as a social worker, focusing on work with men and boys, and says he hopes to become a “mouthpiece for men”.

He also hopes to encourage men to take more care of their health, saying: “Many men view their body like a car. If something goes wrong, they go to the doctor and assume that it can be fixed.”

In his first three months on the job with Nuremberg’s city hall, numerous men have taken advantage of the new role to ask Becker for advice, for example about divorce and custody rights, their careers, or domestic violence.

He works with male victims of domestic violence, whom he says face discrimination, and with male perpetrators in order to prevent further violence.

The 52-year-old has been in office since May as part of a year-long trial; next year city authorities will decide whether to make the role permanent. His position is officially part of the ‘Women’s Rights’ department, replacing one of the existing women’s officers.

Back in 2012, then Family Minister Kristina Schröder hosted an international conference on men’s issues, arguing that men needed more representation and help breaking into careers traditionally dominated by women, such as kindergarten teaching.

Germany was labelled more sexist than France and the UK in a 2015 poll looking at attitudes towards gender, while a study from May this year showed that it has one of the highest gender pay gaps in Europe, with men earning an average of 20 percent more than their female counterparts.

Article source: http://www.thelocal.de/20160804/equality-germany-gets-its-first-mens-representative