Women keep up the fight for a political role

A group of women, including Helvetia, hand over the memorandum

Swiss women politicians from the main parties have issued a memorandum calling on parliamentarians to support a greater role for women in political life.

This content was published on December 9, 2004

The action comes on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the December 10 elections, in which just one woman was elected to the federal government.

The December 10 Declaration is signed by women from across the political spectrum and includes women from the rightwing Swiss People’s Party, the centre-right Radical and Christian Democrats, as well as the centre-left Social Democrats and Green party.

It calls for more women in the cabinet and parliament, as well as at cantonal level.

There is currently only one woman in the federal government: Social Democrat Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey.

The Christian Democrat’s Ruth Metzler was not re-elected last December and was replaced by the People’s Party figurehead, Christoph Blocher. This caused an outcry, with women taking to the streets to demonstrate their anger.

The politicians say that one cabinet member, and a 25 per cent representation in parliament, is not a fair reflection of the role of women in Switzerland. To adequately reflect the population parliament would need to be made up of 53 per cent women, they say.

Fair representation

They are therefore calling for women to comprise 40 per cent of candidates, with 35 per cent being elected in the next federal elections in 2007. In 2003, 35 per cent of candidates were women and 25 per cent were elected.

The women will be organising a demonstration and national conference to raise awareness of their demands.

The memorandum further calls for measures to help women combine careers with family life, equal opportunities in work and training, and equal pay.

December 10 is also be the day when a separate group of women end their round-the-clock vigil for women’s rights near the federal parliament building.

The women have been demonstrating since March 8 - International Women’s Day - in protest at the lack of political representation. They have also called for an end to discrimination.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Women make up 53 per cent of the Swiss population.
But only 25 per cent of the members of parliament.
12,000 to 15,000 people demonstrated after the December 10, 2003 elections.

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