Feminist strike: since 2019, “little has changed for women”


feminist strikeSince 2019, “little has changed for women”

A new wave of demonstrations will take place across Switzerland on Tuesday in favor of women’s rights. This year, the demands are particularly political.

The 2019 protest brought people together amid political divisions.


four years later the purple wave which saw 500,000 people demonstrate for women’s rights, the movement will return to the streets this Tuesday, June 14th. Organizers and participants denounce the fact that there has been “almost no progress since 2019” for women’s rights, in particular according to the Swiss Union (USS).

“Work for multiple generations”

“It is progressing, but it takes time”, tempers Verde Céline Vara, State Councilor of Neuchâtel. There are advances, such as the provision of menstrual material in certain cantons, or the establishment, finally, of paternity leave, although insufficient. The sexual criminal law review mentions the concept of consent, which was not the case two years ago. Feminist mobilizations have clearly played a role in these developments.

These advances also make the right happy: “There was clearly an awareness that the political agenda is changing, rejoices the State Councilor of the PLR, Johanna Gapany. Individual taxation and the revision of the LPP, currently under discussion, are good examples. And the political representation of women has advanced a lot: young women in the Council of States, a few years ago was unthinkable!

Both agree, however, with the important work that remains to be done, “for several generations”, predicts the elected PLR. “The wage gap between men and women has increased even more”, recalls Céline Vara. The time of the symbolic start of the strike, calculated on this difference, was also brought forward from 3:24 pm in 2019 to 3:19 pm this year. “The measures that allow for a more balanced family model, such as parental leave, the continuous day or after-school care centers, continue to be insufficient and always fought by the right, he regrets. And the coup de grace is the AVS21 and raising the retirement age for women.

Instrumentation or key issue?

It is this issue that was placed at the center of the demands of this June 14, in particular by the USS, which asks for a vote no to the reform proposed by Parliament and presented to the Swiss in September. A campaign aimed at remembering the free housework performed by women, which results in lower pensions because they are often calculated on part-time work.

“This instrumentalization is not constructive”, reacts Johanna Gapany, who refutes the analysis according to which the right would delay the progress of several key dossiers. “The successes of the past were achieved thanks to the mobilization of women from all parties, believes the Friburguesa. If there is conservatism, it is not exclusive to one field. In addition, measures to reconcile work and family have often emerged under right-wing governments. Political promises are one thing, you have to see the result on the ground.

“The pandemic: an opportunity to change the model”

In Neuchâtel, Unia decided to focus on predominantly female professions in the hotel and restaurant industry, to highlight new management models that aim to facilitate the reconciliation of private and professional life. “The pandemic has transformed habits, it is an opportunity to be taken advantage of to improve working conditions”, says Isabel Amian, union secretary. The aim is, in particular, to reduce cutting hours, for example by changing opening hours, which some have done. Other claims, salary increases or even a minimum monthly guarantee for hourly workers on call.

The union will act on Tuesday to welcome the good practices of some employers, “which are clearly beginning to evolve”, he believes. For example, he will go to the Auberge d’Hauterive, which has enacted a letter against harassment, in particular to protect service personnel.

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