Why this story matters:
Austrian equal rights lawyer Nikolay-Leitner has represented women with feminist claims for 27 years. Shortly after her retirement, she takes stock of her work in the service of anti-discrimination in an interview for Der Standard.
"People who only deal with discrimination a few times in their lives do not see discrimination, but if they are more involved in it, it’s different. They start to see the structure behind it. "
Women's quotas are an attempt to make up for an imbalance. And nothing causes so much trouble, says Ingrid Nikolay-Leitner. She knows from experience that every form of positive action meets with many complaints from men. Why? Because people's sense of justice depends on the current dynamic, says Nikolay-Leitner. In her view, one reason for this is that equal treatment always goes against the prevailing social forces.
"Those who sit on the high end of an inclined plane have a lot of objections when it is straightened because they feel like they’re going down."
The first issue to tip the slope was the question of equal pay. With all the controversy it caused, it was the central problem from day one, recalls the lawyer. The topic of sexual harassment in the workplace, which has recently united many people under the MeToo hashtag, was the second irritant.
Details from the story:
- In January 1991, Ingrid Nikolay-Leitner became the first and -- until 1998 -- only equal rights lawyer in Austria with the aim of making justice more equitable for men and women.
- At the end of April, the teacher and lawyer retired as head of the Ombud for Equal Treatment.