BERLIN, GERMANY (NOVEMBER 9, 2018) (REUTERS) – Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel will give a speech on Monday commemorating 100 years since women in Germany got the right to vote – but how far has Germany moved on in terms of gender equality since then?
The light is just breaking through as Melanie Aalburg stops in at her yacht club on her way to her full-time job as a general practitioner in a doctor’s surgery. The boats are out of the water for winter and Aalburg has earned some land rest after being one of only three female skippers to take part in the non-stop Bermuda to Cuxhaven transatlantic race in July.
Aalburg is a member of the picturesque Stoessensee club in in West Berlin – where women only make up some 35 percent of the members. Out on the open sea it feels like less she says. Sailing under the coat of arms of Bremen on her sponsored team boat, the Bank of Bremen, Aalburg skippered the 19-day Atlantic Anniversary Regatta ocean race as the only woman in a crew of 10.
The 44 year-old told Reuters TV it is a great honour to skipper in off-shore racing, a domain where men usually rule the waves. On board, Aalburg says, there is no difference between men and women. It is all about your skill set, a respect for the forces of nature and being able to rely on each other in tough conditions.
“It’s not an easy world and it should be said clearly. But it’s doable and I believe a lot depends on how much a person puts into it,” Aalburg says.
A native Berliner, Aalburg, who started sailing in her first regattas at 11 years old, says there is certainly more that could be done for equality but calls on young women to get a good training as the key to success.
And it isn’t always about proving yourself in a man’s world: as a practising doctor and member of the first all women’s German transatlantic racing team Aalburg is making waves in her own right.