Women's Rights III

Aktualisiert: Feb 18

Blog 1: Part 3: Women's rights: what was, what is and what should be - from Sinje H.



What was, what is and what should be

On February 7, 1971, the Swiss men voted at the polls to approve the constitutional amendment that in future all Swiss women would have the same political rights as them (65.7% yes to 34.2% no). As a landlocked country in Europe, Switzerland later lost its island existence in terms of women's suffrage. Portugal followed in 1974 and, as the last country in Europe, the Principality of Liechtenstein in 1984.

The road was long and rocky, and it took two attempts to succeed. In 1948 Switzerland celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Federal Constitution under the motto: “Switzerland, a people of brothers”, at which point all European countries, except for those mentioned above, had already introduced women's suffrage. The Swiss women's associations redefined the motto as a “people of brothers without sisters” and symbolically presented the Federal Council with a map of Europe with a black spot in the middle.


To this day, western Switzerland is more progressive; essential impulses came from the Labor Party, which was particularly well represented in French-speaking Switzerland. At cantonal level, women in Switzerland fought for the right to vote from 'West to East', in 1959 the canton of Vaud was the first to accept the right to vote, followed by Neuchâtel in the same year and Geneva in 1960. Basel-Stadt was the first canton in German-speaking Switzerland in 1966 and Italian Switzerland in 1969. This did not succeed without pressure from outside towards the federal level. When Switzerland joined the Council of Europe, a problem arose with human rights: They apply to people and not just to men. It was only after 1974 that Switzerland was able to sign the European Convention on Human Rights, after women had received the right to vote in 1971.

At the ‘’Marsch uf Bärn’’ in 1969, Emilie Lieberherr from Zurich was at the forefront. "We are not here as pleaders, but as demanders," she said on the Bundesplatz in Bern. They made it and enforced the right to gender equality and thus created legal equality for all adult local residents.

So, since 1971 Switzerland has been 'not half a democracy', but a 'three quarters'. To date, 25% of the population have no political rights: those who live here without a Swiss passport. It is to be hoped that this will not take as long again as with women's rights. A start has been made: The cantons of Neuchâtel and Jura and 605 municipalities have introduced the right to vote for foreigners, no surprise, most of them are in western Switzerland. I hope that Emilies Lieberherrs Zurich will soon enforce the voting rights of all residents, regardless of nationality, at least at community level. So that the people who live here, at least their immediate surroundings, can also help shape politics.


To be continued..

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