Switzerland

1968 – Switzerland signs the European Convention on Human Rights (“with reservations”) 

Young women decide to form a Women’s Liberation Movement based on the American and French models (Frauenbefreiungsbewegung – FBB)

 

1969 – Protest march to Bern, 5,000 people protest gender inequality and demand votes for women, followed by a demonstration in Zurich. Sociology professor Claudia Honegger is the first women to hold a public speech on May 1st

 

1971 – An independent women’s group formed in Geneva, with the ironic name “Front des Bonnes Femmes” – later renamed to “Mouvement de Libération des Femmes” (MLF). Swiss women get the right to vote. Launch of the campaigns for abortion rights. At the International Conference of Labour Organizations, Switzerland signs the UN Equal Pay document (“Über die Gleichheit des Entgelts männlicher und weiblicher Arbeitskräfte für gleichwertige Arbeit”)

 

1972 – Founding of the lesbian organization “Saphho s’en fou” in Geneva. Opening of the first Women’s Information and Counseling Office (INFRA) in Zurich, followed by offices in other Swiss cities, including Basel, Bern, Frauenfeld, Schaffhausen and Uster. Founding of the Homosexual Labour Group in Bern (Homosexuelle Arbeitsgruppen Bern – HAB)

 

1974 – Foundation of a Lesbian Labour Group within the HAB. The study on the “Status of Women in the Family and Society” published by sociologists Thomas Held und René Levy. An independent Women’s Centre established in Zurich 

 

1975 – UN declared the International Women’s Year. Women’s Congress held in Bern. Zurich University held the first Women’s Week. Lydia Benz-Burger led the Initiative “Equal Rights for Men and Women.” Demonstrations on March 8, International Women’s Day. National demonstration in Zurich for legalization of abortion. First UN World Women’s Conference held in Mexico. First feminist publications created, including Emanzipation (Basel), Frauezitig (Zurich), L’Insoumise (Geneva). From 1978 the Frauen-Anzeiger and Feministische Bulletin were published in Bern

 

1976 – FBB Zurich protested against the film Histoire d’O (dir. Just Jaeckin, 1975). Founding of the Women’s Commission (Eidgenössischen Kommission für Frauenfragen – EKF)

 

1977 – Establishment of the first shelter for battered women in Zurich and Geneva (solidarité femmes), followed by shelters in Bern (1980), Basel (1981), St. Gallen (1982), and Lucerne (1984). Founding of a Lesbian Group in Bern (LIB). Opening of the new Women’s Centre in Geneva (Bd. St-Georges), followed by Women’s Centres in other cities

 

1978 – Opening of the Women’s Library “La mauvaise graine” in Lausanne, and a Women’s and Lesbian Library in Basel, which organized many feminist events and exists to this day. Opening of the Centre d’Orientation, de Rencontre et de Réinsertion pour les Femmes (CORREF) in Geneva. For the first time, the March 8th demonstrations included lesbians. The Swiss television aired Telearena on the theme of homosexuality.  Establishment of a national office for the Commission of Protection of Mothers (nationale Mutterschutz-Kommission)

 

1979 – First national Gay Liberation Day. In Biel, young women protested home-economics courses, which sparked the creation of the Bern Commission to establish new regulations

 

1980 – UN World Women Conference held in Copenhagen. National demonstration for equality of men and women in Zurich

 

1981 – Third International Women’s Health Meeting held in Geneva, organized by Rina Nissim and Patricia Schulz. The Equal Rights for Men and Women legislation passed in Parliament with 60% majority (Artikel 4, Absatz 2 BV), followed by the establishment of local committees to enforce the new legislation. A national Feminist Committee established

 

1982 – Sex workers in Geneva organize as “Aspasie” group. A national lesbian demonstration held in Geneva

 

1983 – Founding of the Feminist Science Union (Verein feministische Wissenschaft – FemWiss) 

In 1924, middle-class women organized an Academic Women’s Union (Verband der Akademikerinnen – SVA). Yvette Jaggi launched the parliamentary initiative for Equal Pay law

 

1984 – First female Councilwoman (Bundesrätin) Elisabeth Kopp (FDP) elected

 

1985 – Women’s Info Centre for foreign women established. The UN World  Women’s Conference held in Nairobi

 

1986 – Women in Politics Organization (Frauen macht Politik - Frap!) established, which became a political party in 1989

 

1987 – Bisexual Women’s and Lesbians’ Centre (BOA) established in Zurich

 

1988 – A study on gendered pay published

 

1989 – Women’s squat in Josefstrasse in Zurich

 

1991 – First women’s labour strike included half a million female workers

 

1992 – A female press office established. Sexual assault legislation reformed to include marital rape and outlawing hard-core porn   

 

1993 – The Victim’s Aid Law passed enforcing local medical, psychological, social, legal and financial assistance to victims of violence. The failed election of Councilwoman Christiane Brunner led to the Brunner-scandal, followed by mass demonstrations and protests. Her Party colleague Ruth Dreifuss was elected to the Federal Council (Bundesrat) in March, and sparked an Initiative for equal representation of women in state organizations (Quoteninitiative)

 

1995 – National Lesbian Organization (LOS) established. Fourth UN World Women’s Conference held in Beijing

 

1996 – Equal Opportunities Law passed

 

1998 – Founding of the Feminist Coalition (FemCo)

 

2000 – Establishment of the Laboratoire interuniversitaire en Etudes Genre (LIEGE) at the University of Lausanne

 

2001 – Establishment of the Center for Gender Studies in Basel, the only one offering BA, MA, and PhD degrees in Gender Studies. Establishment of the Interdisciplinary Center for Gender Research (IZFG) at the University of Bern. Launch of the online-project “Gender Campus

 

2002 – First official complaint about salary discrimination

 

2004 – Child care workers protest against unequal pay

 

2005 – Women’s Labour Unions Congress (SGB) held in Bern with 250 participants, who produced a manifesto for Equal Pay

 

2007 Christine Egerszegi (FDP) elected President of Federal Council, and Micheline Calmy-Rey (SP)

elected president (Bundespräsidentin)

 

2008 – First Ladyfest held in Bern

 

2009 – For the first time women outnumber men at Swiss universities. First Swiss feminist blog created:

www.siekamundblieb.blogspot.com. First Equal Pay Day held. First Center for male victims of domestic violence opened.

 

2010 – EBG published the brochure “Acknowledgement and Value of Care-Work” (Anerkennung und Aufwertung der Care-Arbeit). With the election of the Social Democrat Simonetta Sommaruga to National Council, Switzerland is ruled by a female majority for the first time

 

2011 – Formation of the Grandmothers’ Revolution (GrossmütterRevolution)

(Compiled with the help of Leena Schmitter, Kristina Schulz, and Sarah Kiani

and their work: Frauenbewegung – Die Schweiz seit 1968. Analysen, Dokumente, Archive, 2014) 

PHOTO CREDIT: K. Sark, Geneva, United Nations Building 2016