Women's Rights IV

Blog 1: Part 4: The special case of APPENZELL INNERHODEN, the world-famous story, and the special case of Wädenswil


Special case APPENZELL INNERHODEN, the world-famous story

Today the half-canton has almost 15,000 inhabitants, so it is little more than a village that I am regularly asked about abroad: "Are the women in Appenzell allowed to vote nowadays?" Yes, for 20 years they too have been able to express their opinion and have a say, thanks to a complaint by a young woman.


The right to vote for women had to be introduced through legal channels in Appenzell Innerhoden, the Appenzell men stubbornly refused the women the right: The Federal Court ruled on November 27, 1990 that women were also entitled to vote in Innerrhoden from now on, the men of the canton had this until then rejected twice. Based on a lawsuit by the then twenty-one-year-old potter Theresia Rohner, the federal court ultimately decided. Thanks to her husband's blessing, she had opened a shop on Landsgemeindeplatz, the place where direct democracy was cultivated by showing hands or raising a saber. In addition to the locals, Rohner's customers also included many tourists who were surprised that the businesswoman had to pay taxes but had no say. The decision on November 27, 1990 was unanimous: "Anyone who denies women this right is against the Federal Constitution."

But the Innerrhödler were miserable losers. The locals hardly bought any more from Theresia Rohner. Her then husband's photo business also suffered. The family received threatening phone calls months before the decision and therefore pulled the phone plug. After the verdict, death threats came in the mail. She was afraid for her children; she will tell later. The family was placed under police protection. In April 1991 the time had finally come, Theresia Rohner was allowed to vote in Appenzell for the first time. Accompanied by police officers, she went to the Landsgemeindeplatz. Amazingly, everything went normally. "It was like we'd always been there."

In addition to cheese and watches, Appenzell women's suffrage is now one of Switzerland's top exports.


Special case of Wädenswil

Most of the time I grew up in Wädenswil on Lake Zurich, a village too, but bigger than Appenzell and my community also hit the international headlines because of a female concern. To the delight of everyone who had to learn German as a foreign language, they know the distinction between job titles according to gender. I am not an actor, but an actress, a waitress and not a waiter. This may seem awkward, but language shapes thinking! In 1993, after 100 years, Wädenswil wanted to write the municipal code completely in the female form and to mention the men in the preamble, just as women were previously 'included'. "For the next 100 years, the reverse should apply, until the men fight back," said the spokeswoman Hansruedi Maurer of the press. What the local council approved, the electorate rejected. The men in Wädenswil did not want to give up their 100-year-old privilege and were named as Wädenswiler women, I would have liked more solidarity and flexibility.


To be continued...

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