The Women’s Session 2021: A Revolutionary Step Towards Equality

Dec 16, 2021
By Lisa Rubli

2 days, 246 women, 77 voting items

That was the historic Women’s Session 2021 and I was honoured to be a part of it.

The Women’s Session is a two-day event held at the Federal Palace in Bern on Octobre 29 & 30 where elected women from all walks of life came together to discuss critical issues and demand that policy makers see politics from a female perspective.

I had the privilege of participating in this wonderful adventure, having been elected to represent women in one of the 41 places available for the whole Lake Geneva region: what an honour and a responsibility! I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the women who voted for me. Friends, family members, colleagues, acquaintances, women in my network… I went to Bern for ALL OF YOU to defend our rights. It was you I thought of at every moment; when I was indignant, when I was happy, when I was fighting!

To prepare for this session, we had the opportunity to join one of the 8 proposed commissions. If all the themes seemed very interesting, it was in the “equality at work and retirement” commission that I naturally thought I could make my contribution. We commenced work in August and prepared the items we wanted to bring to the Women’s Session. It was an intense, rich and exciting experience. We discussed issues such as the revision of the LPP (law about retirement), individual taxation, parental leave, the financing of childcare places, the inclusion of private households in the Labour Act and the amendment of the Equality Act.

I feel very passionately about all of these issues. My remit in the preparatory stage was to focus on the amendment of the Equality Act. I worked hard to put forward our position, particularly regarding the removal of the sunset clause on the obligation to analyse salaries and the need for controls. I also put forward the possibility of penalising companies that do not comply with the Act.

On the strength of rich and intense debates, our committee brought five petitions to the Women’s Session. During these two days when the Federal Palace was in the hands of women, I was particularly struck by the participants’ commitment, willingness to act, competence, and professionalism. Like her colleagues Simonetta Sommaruga and Viola Amherd, Federal Councillor Karin Keller-Sutter gave an inspiring speech and pointed out that she had never witnessed a parliamentary session with so much dedication.

We worked on and debated 77 items and adopted 23 demands that were submitted as petitions to the Office of the Councils for the attention of Parliament. These included:

  • the creation of a fund to finance childcare facilities outside the family
  • the amendment of the law on equality
  • the revaluation of care work
  • an adaptation of matrimonial law for partners in farms
  • a national campaign to prevent gender-based violence

These demands, emerging from months of preparatory work and the two-day session, present solutions to women’s most pressing political concerns in Switzerland. They have the potential to be revolutionary for equality policy in the years to come and shape the labour market, social insurance, health, security, and science policy.

I will never forget this experience. The committed speeches, the cheers and applause that followed them still echo in my head and my heart.

The strength of women is extraordinary and boundless.

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