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Swiss mark International Women's Day

The president of the Swiss parliament, Liliane Maury Pasquier (left) organised speeches in in Bern Keystone

Throughout Switzerland, women's achievements have been celebrated on Friday as the country marked International Women's Day.

This content was published on March 8, 2002 - 18:33

Besides lauding achievements, the Swiss also have used the occasion to explore many of the current issues and problems women face.

In Bern, prominent Swiss women made speeches, while the Federal Office for Refugees threw open its doors to welcome visitors and workshop participants. The workshops examined such topics as pay, children's rights, and immigrants' right to vote. The federal office has also depicted women's lives, through photographs by Olivia Heussler.

Also in Bern, a women's collective launched an informational guide on pensions and social benefits. Elsewhere, Swiss syndicates discussed gender equality in the workplace, and topics related to contractual rights.

Events in parliament

The parliamentary president, Liliane Maury Pasquier, organised speeches in parliament under the title "The future is determined by women". Among the speakers were Expo.02's director-general, Nelly Wenger, along with the head of the Swiss national fund for scientific research, Heidi Diggelman, and the athlete, Anita Weyermann.

The Swiss Watchmakers and Metal Workers Union set up a display in Bern, while the Feminist Coalition of Switzerland (FemCo) used the day to launch a campaign to legalise abortion, ahead of a national vote in June.

Geneva workshops

In Geneva, the Centre for Women's Associations organised a series of workshops and courses for women on Swiss politics.

For nearly a century, International Women's Day has been observed by women's groups around the world to commemorate their struggle for equality in several walks of life.

The date was first marked in 1910 - a decade after a member of the international women's garment makers union, Clara Zetkin, at the Second International Conference of Socialist Women in Paris, called for an annual date on which to celebrate the movement for women's rights and freedom.

Switzerland, along with Austria, Denmark and Germany were among the first countries to declare International Women's Day, on March 8,1911.

More than one million men and women in those four countries rallied to demand women's right to vote, to work and to hold public office.

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