“Respect, time, pay!” 

Today, Swiss women mobilized in protesting against gender inequality with the moto “respect, time, pay!” supported by the trade unionists, Aliance F, the Swiss Union of Catholic Women, the Protestant Women of Switzerland and the Swiss Union of Farm and Rural Women. This throughout country strike was a result of the Women’s Assembly of the Swiss Trades Union Congress initiative brought up at the time of the debate on the revised legislation on gender equality last January.

In 1991, the protest of about 500, 000 Swiss women out of total 4 million population has marked the 20th anniversary of women getting the right to vote at the Swiss federal level (in 1971 with eight out of 26 cantons rejecting it) and the 10th anniversary of equality being enshrined in the Federal Constitution of Switzerland (1981). Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties emphasizes that little progress was achieved on gender equality in Switzerland since the 1991 strike: the equality provisions were included in the legislation in 1996, the abortion was legalized in 2002 and the respective legislation was approved in 2004 to implement the constitutional provision on maternity leave that was adopted in 1945. However, after almost 30 years ago, Swiss women march today with the same demands of equal pay for equal work, equality under social insurance law, and for the end of discrimination and sexual harassment.

Switzerland ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in March 1997 with three reservations (2 were withdrawn) and its Optional Protocol recognizing the individual complaints procedure in December 2008. Up to date, CEDAW Committee examined two cycles of periodic reports submitted by the Swiss government on the implementation of the covenant. Upon review of fourth report in 2016, CEDAW Committee has made same critical remarks as during the first two reporting cycles on Switzerland’s efforts in regards to gender equality as well as gave constructive recommendations. Namely, the criticism focused on the same issues on discrimination of women in working life (e.g. unequal pay, unequal job opportunities, the overrepresentation of women in part-time jobs, unpaid care work), the problem of domestic and sexual violence against women and the widespread impunity for offenders, problems related to trafficking in women and girls and the unequal distribution of power between men and women in political and public life.

CEDAW experts have also suggested to develop a national gender equality strategy, action plans and create an independent human rights institution compliant with international standards. Finally, it was strongly recommended to Switzerland to take prompt and efficient  action to fight the discrimination of disadvantaged groups of women (migrants, women seeking asylum, members of ethnic minorities such as Muslimas, travellers, and undocumented women) and to guarantee the resident status of foreign women in case of domestic violence.

Related Links


  • UNIA Syndicat

  • La grève des femmes

Further reading 

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