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The long struggle

Fifty years of voting rights for Swiss women.

A battle that lasted a hundred years

On the 50th anniversary of the women's right to vote in Switzerland, we retrace the steps that enabled this landmark achievement.

A long struggle

In 1948, the new Swiss Federal Constitution granted the right to vote to male citizens only. At this time, women were excluded from the possibility of participating in the political life of their country.

The first step toward voting rights was taken in 1868, in Zurich, when several women asked for the right to vote on the occasion of the cantonal constitutional revision. Their request was denied.   Several attempts then followed: across the country women gathered in local associations and signed petitions. For a century, Swiss women funded and developed associations that formally requested the right to vote in cantons throughout the country.

In 1957, the Unterbäch (VS) city council granted Swiss women the right to vote.  This was a crucial moment in their fight. However, there was still a long way to go.  Between the 1950’s and 1970’s, several cantons approved the right to vote for women but only on a local level. In Ticino, women could vote at the cantonal level for the first time on October 19th, 1969.


Victory for Swiss women

On the 1st of March 1969, 5’000 people demonstrated in front of the Federal Palace in Bern for women’s right to vote. It was a significant moment. Two years later, on February 7, 1971, Swiss women finally got the right to vote, as well as hold office in the Federal Parliament.

On February 7, 2021, we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of that historic decision. Thanks to great women, such as Emilie Lieberherr  (1924-2011), Katharina Zenhäusern (1919-2014), Iris von Roten (1917-1990), Antoinette Quinche (1896-1979), Elsa Franconi-Poretti (1895 -1995), many Swiss women have fought and claimed their right to vote and participate in political life in Switzerland.

There is Still a Long Way to Go

Today, for those of us working for ActionAid, it is also an opportunity to remember how the road to true gender equality is still long.   Just like Swiss women of the past, we too must strive to get reach an increasing number of women across the world, in order to work with them for the right to participate in the social and political life of their community.

A society cannot be complete without the participation of women. At ActionAid, we keep fighting  for social justice together so that more and more women and young people can look to a future of  active civic participation.


References and further readings:
Association CH2021:

Swiss Parliament: