28 years later, Swiss women strike again for equality
June 13, 2019 10:10 PM   Subscribe

In 1991, there were no women in Swiss government, there was no statutory maternity leave, and some Swiss women had been granted the vote only the previous year. Fed up with such inequality and lack of respect, hundreds of thousands of Swiss women staged the biggest strike in Swiss history. Now, 28 years later, Swiss women are going on strike again to protest the lack of equality that plagues the country, which has an average 20% pay gap and 37% pension gap between men and women. You can follow the strike and its stories using the Twitter hashtag #frauenstreik2019. Also on Twitter, Anna Wiederkehr of the Neue Zürcher Zeitung newspaper shows what the news would look like without women: "No women, no media."
posted by hurdy gurdy girl (12 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Something really obvious when I lived in CH: two income households in many cantons are taxed at vastly higher rates than single income; most Swiss schools have a several-hour lunch break during which you’re required to take your kid home and feed them. They’re not big on subtlety!

I’ve lived in a lot of countries and Switzerland was easily the most sexist of the rich countries. Probably the most reflexively sexist country overall, come to think of it.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 11:19 PM on June 13 [13 favorites]

It has been fewer than 50 years since Swiss women gained the right to vote in federal elections and (as the write-up notes) the last canton to allow women to vote in local elections did not relent until 1990. (Well, actually, they didn't relent, the decision was forced upon them by the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland..)
posted by Nerd of the North at 11:25 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]

I sometimes point to these sides of Switzerland when people are enamoured of the direct democracy there.
posted by Harald74 at 3:58 AM on June 14 [6 favorites]

The 1975 Icelandic women's strike is an interesting parallell. It had extremely high participation and forced real changes. So good luck to all the Swiss strikers!
posted by Harald74 at 4:02 AM on June 14 [2 favorites]

I have an online friend who lived in Switzerland for a while with a young kid and I was flabbergasted at the stories she would tell about the expectations placed on mothers there (both structural with the way school days are scheduled, and social). I had just assumed it was like most other N. European countries with a heavy emphasis on gender equality but wow no.
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:07 AM on June 14 [2 favorites]

One data point: As measured by the OECD for full-time workers in 2016, the Swiss pay gap is very typical of developed countries. For example, it's slightly smaller than the U.S., and way smaller than Japan or Korea. And from 2006 to 2016, it experienced one of the larger declines in the gap. (That doesn't say anything about many other dimensions of inequality.)
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 6:29 AM on June 14

One of your friendly neighborhood Swiss MeFites checking in! Very happy to see support for our strike on the blue, thanks, hurdy gurdy girl, though I’d like to gently refer back to a comment I made a few years ago about MeFite attitudes towards Switzerland. Here’s the 2018 update for the gender gap report I mentioned there.

I’m hastily finishing this on the bus that will take me to the protest gathering zone (I can see out the window that street signs named after famous Swiss men have been renamed to famous Swiss women) so please keep on sending the good vibes and maybe remember that we’re the little mountain country in Central Europe, not the long country in Northern Europe. Thanks!
posted by bettafish at 8:10 AM on June 14 [17 favorites]

What I found most disturbing during my years spent living in Switzerland was the defence of women not being 'given' the vote until so late. I've lived all over the world and never found anything remotely as disturbing as hearing the 'explanations' of how women there simply didnt 'want' to vote. (I guess the defense of keeping all the murdered Jews' money and how greedy Jews were to want it back, did rank up there though if I'm honest.) Good for these striking women: solidarity!
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 11:04 AM on June 14 [2 favorites]

Metafilter skews heavily American, so I’d like to remind my fellow Americans that, while it’s refreshing to sometimes remember that the world’s woes aren’t exclusive to us, let’s not allow that relief to wash away our sense of international modesty.

Keep in mind that it’s likely most women participating in this strike love and want to improve their country, not dunk on its miscellaneous and by no means unique failings.
posted by thoroughburro at 11:15 AM on June 14 [2 favorites]

The reason I decided to make this post is that I was impressed the women in Switzerland had mobilized (for the second time in 30 years) on such a large scale. It’s notable that there has been at least one action planned in every single community in Switzerland—from the biggest, most liberal cities to the smallest, most conservative villages. It may not be that every single citizen supports the strike, but the support does seem to be widespread. I find this heartening and inspirational.

There are plenty of reasons for a similar strike in my country (Canada), which also has a significant gender pay gap and other gender equity problems. I’m trying to imagine whether there would be national appetite here for a strike on a similar scale, and I honestly don’t know.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:41 AM on June 14 [4 favorites]

An article with lots of photos of the day.

Christa Binswanger, a gender studies professor at St. Gallen University, said she was optimistic that Friday's strike would make a difference.

"It has already shown an impact during the last weeks," prompting wide media coverage of gender issues, she told AFP.

"The strike has mobilized a sense of solidarity."

posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:41 AM on June 15 [1 favorite]

I found the fact that if one wants to become a citizen your neighbors have to vote you in.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 4:15 PM on June 15

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