Interior Minister Ruth Dreifuss on Friday recommended a series of new measures aimed at ensuring equality for women in Swiss society, affecting such sectors as politics, business and education.
Dreifuss –- along with Patricia Schulz of the Federal Office for Equality (left) -- outlined proposals that could help move Swiss society toward full equality for men and women:
- Women must be given access to positions of power in politics, industry and business, as well as science and research.
- Equal pay for equal jobs.
- Public funds must be distributed in an even-handed way, so that women benefit as much as men.
- Women must be guaranteed equal opportunities in education and job training.
- More efforts must be made to crack down on violence against women.
Dreifuss recommended the reform measures in the wake of the United Nations women’s conference in Beijing four years ago. The U.N. is to assess in the year 2000 just how much progress has been made worldwide in implementing the changes.
“International conferences are only as good as the implementation of reforms afterwards,” Dreifuss said regarding Switzerland’s reform package, which lists 287 reform proposals.
She said that federal, cantonal and local authorities as well as employers and educational institutions should now move quickly to improve the standing of women in Switzerland.
Dreifuss called for more modern role models for young women. Swiss school books, the media and the advertising industry were all too often showing women in the traditional role of the stay-at-home mother.
Very seldom, the interior minister said, were women shown as self-reliant and educated people capable of shaping their own lives and making informed decisions.
Equality for women, Dreifuss added, should not only be a key priority within Switzerland but should also extend to foreign policy.
The Swiss government should therefore always make sure that its policies abroad – such as economic aid to certain countries – will not have an adverse effect on the social and economic standing of women.
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