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Women’s strike demos held in several Swiss cities

Demonstrating in Basel on Friday Keystone / Georgios Kefalas

All over Switzerland women took to the streets on Friday: in several cities feminist associations called for demonstrations to assert their rights.

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“We’re demonstrating for equal pay, equal treatment and equal rights for all, and against attacks on women and gender minorities at work, in private life, in politics and even in culture,” union Syna said on Friday. Equality in pension annuities is not forgotten, “because wage inequality affects pensions”.

Various actions were planned throughout the day in all language regions. The main national demonstration was held in Bern, with a procession that began at 6pm under the motto “People in solidarity, feminists, anti-racists” and actions on Parliament Square. Several thousand people, and not only women, attended the procession open to all genders: men were invited by the collective to show solidarity.

+ Swiss women take to streets to fight inequality and sexism

The Unia union denounces persistent gender wage disparities: 44% of women who have completed an apprenticeship earn less than CHF5,000 ($5,600), it points out.

Wages in professions where women predominate are systematically too low, it said. As a result, women live with financial worries, depend on others and spend their retirement in poverty because their incomes are too low. According to Unia, the outlook is not improving with the reform of the old-age pension scheme.

+ Swiss vote: ‘yes’ to higher pensions, ‘no’ to retiring later

Policy of equality

Alliance F, Switzerland’s largest women’s organisation, called for a more convincing equality policy: better protection against violence against women and girls, equal pay for equal work, and better framework conditions for reconciling work and family life.

Alliance F recalls that every two weeks in Switzerland a woman is killed by her husband, ex-husband, partner, son, brother or father.

Last year, the women’s strike brought together nearly 300,000 people in Swiss streets, according to the Swiss Union of Swiss Trade Unions. June 14 was chosen because it marks the anniversary of the 1981 vote that enshrined the principle of equality in the Constitution.

In Zurich cry against violence against women

On Friday night several thousand people gathered in Zurich for the occasion. The demonstration began shortly after 5:30pm with a loud cry against violence against women.

With the feminist strike day, Flinta people – a German-language acronym for women, lesbians, intersex, nonbinary, transgender and agender (i.e., genderless) – are fighting against war, crisis and patriarchy, organisers announced.

Before the procession, the feminist strike collective invited several speakers to the Bürkliplatz microphone.

Thousands also took to the streets in Basel under the motto “Unser Körper, unsere Strasse, unsere Welt” (Our body, our street, our world). About 1,000 people also gathered in St Gallen, where, echoing Zurich, they called for greater protection against violence. In Lucerne, the focus of the women’s strike was women’s wages and pensions, with particular criticism of the Occupational Pensions Reform that Switzerland is to vote on in September.

In French-speaking Switzerland, some 18,000 people gathered on the Place de la Riponne in Lausanne, who then marched through the streets of the centre to the esplanade of Montbenon. Here, the purple of the procession was mixed with the green, red and black of Palestinian flags, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

In Geneva, protesters claimed an intersectional, inclusive, decolonialist and borderless feminism.

Adapted from Italian by DeepL/ts

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