No one would have thought that in June 2019, a sea of Swiss women would take to the streets demanding the end of gender discrimination, patriarchy, sexual violence, and the wage gap. A country that is known for its quietness and peace, the trade unions spurred over 500,000 women to show how essential they were to the economy in Switzerland. Even a country like this one, believe it or not, gave women the right to vote as late as 1971. So, did this come as a surprise?
"I have nothing against hiring a woman, as long as she is competent enough."
While Switzerland boasts the fact that there are three women governing the country out of seven others, only 15 percent of women are senators and 93 percent of all CEOs in the private sector are male. From an economic standpoint, the country ranks 34th in the World Economic Forum (WEF) ranking, just behind Kazakhstan and Russia. Meanwhile, gender stereotypes are quite strong making it difficult for women to enter executive and senior management roles. "I have nothing against hiring a woman, as long as she is competent enough," said one male executive consultant. Somehow no seems to question the competence of a man promoting the myth that men are born competent while women have to prove that they have it. Also, Swiss women face a lot of obstacles in the workplaces and because of this, about 60 percent of young mothers work paid jobs that are shorter than part-time hours; there is no paternity leave and childcare options are rare and expensive.
We need an education that radically changes the state of things
The truth is that many countries like Switzerland have failed to see the benefits to the economy if women are fully participating in the workforce. Did you know that 1 in 7 women are laid off after they take maternity leave? Surprisingly, this strike has united both right and left-wing groups proving that gender inequality can really unite everyone despite their political stances. Sonja Crivelli from the Swizz Party of Labor, said "We need an education that radically changes the state of things, an education that starts from early childhood, continues in schools and passes through all the threads of the community. Women have long struggled to achieve respect and justice, and will continue to struggle until they are free from economic violence, exploitation, and precariousness, free to decide their own bodies, their own education."
Image credit: Vox