Women’s strike and climate shaped Swiss image abroad in 2019

Foreign media outlets used the women's strike on June 14 to take a critical look at Switzerland’s gender equality policy Keystone

Foreign media coverage of Switzerland last year focused mainly on the women’s strike, Swiss efforts to address climate change and the gains made by Green parties in the federal election. 

This content was published on January 30, 2020 - 18:25

Facebook’s plan to base its Libra cryptocurrency in Geneva also drew considerable attention, the government said in a statementExternal link on Thursday. 

The women’s strike on June 14 had a very significant media impact worldwide, it said, with foreign media outlets seizing on the strike to take a detailed and critical look at Switzerland’s gender equality policy. 

“While Switzerland was portrayed as a country that lags behind in gender equality, the gains made by women in House or Representatives and Senate elections in the autumn offered the public something of a corrective to that image,” the government added. 

Alongside the issue of gender equality, the electoral gains made by the Green Party and the Liberal Green Party in the federal elections also attracted attention abroad. 

Switzerland’s response to climate change drew frequent praise against the backdrop of the issue’s global relevance in 2019. 

“The consequences of climate change are particularly evident in Switzerland because our glaciers are melting. This generates media interest around the world. Switzerland is seen as a country that is getting to grips with the challenges of climate change and looking seriously for solutions,” said Nicolas Bideau, head of Presence SwitzerlandExternal link, the section of the foreign ministry responsible for Switzerland’s image abroad. 

Regulatory pioneer 

The Swiss financial centre also had an impact on perceptions of Switzerland abroad. The focus of media coverage continued to shift away from controversial financial and tax-related scandals towards topics that burnish Switzerland’s image, such as the automatic exchange of information or the good regulatory environment for new fintech developments, the statement said. 

While the court ruling against UBS in France and the Credit Suisse spying scandal generated renewed negative headlines about the Swiss financial sector in 2019, media coverage of the plans to base the Libra cryptocurrency in Switzerland and other fintech developments frequently portrayed the country as a pioneer in the regulatory arena. 

Other topics and events that boosted Switzerland’s image abroad were the achievements of Roger Federer, the award of the Nobel Prize in Physics to Swiss astrophysicists Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz, the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Fête de Vignerons

The government also pointed out that perceptions of Switzerland abroad were positive not only in the traditional media and on social media but among the general public. In the Nation Brands IndexExternal link – a comparison of 50 countries – Switzerland ranked eighth in 2019: its governance, its quality in terms of business location and standard of living continue to earn the country an excellent international reputation.

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