Swiss men continued to deny women the right to vote until 1971. This inspired two Swiss-based authors to tell stories of women experiencing the fight for women's suffrage at first hand.This content was published on February 14, 2021 - 10:00
In The Other Daughter by British author Caroline Bishop, one of the key protagonists, Sylvia, is a reporter sent to Switzerland on a mission to find out the effect of the introduction of female suffrage. At the time, the United Kingdom was well ahead of Switzerland in introducing laws, but Britain was far from achieving actual equality between the sexes. Sylvia struggles to forge ahead in a male-dominated profession.
Voting Day by Irish writer Clare O'Dea is set on the day that men first voted no to women's suffrage in Switzerland in February 1959. Clare's novella examines how sexual inequality affects the lives of its four main characters, women of various ages, including a hard-working farmer's wife and her daughter, an office worker in Bern.
Both authors also address a murky chapter in Swiss history. Between 1920 and 1970 more than 100,000 children are believed to have been taken from their parents due to poverty or for moral reasons and sent to live with new families, often poor farmers who needed cheap labour.
Clare O'Dea is a freelance contributor to SWI swissinfo.ch.