Women's rights in the spotlight on Mother's Day

Swiss women want equal rights and an end to domestic violence

Mother's Day in Switzerland coincided with renewed calls from politicians and activists for better rights for women, both at home and in the workplace.

This content was published on May 14, 2001 minutes

A recent report by the charity, Save the Children foundation, ranked the Swiss sixth in the world on the basis of mothers' access to health care, use of contraception and family planning, literacy rate and participation in government.

However the survey appears to be at odds with the picture painted by those battling for better rights for women in Switzerland, who claim domestic violence and inequality are endemic.

"I am quite surprised by this result," said Lucrezia Meier-Schatz, president of the women's rights organisation, Pro Familia Switzerland, and a member of the House of Representatives.

"If you analyse what Swiss government does in terms of family policy and you compare that with the result of this survey, you would say that it's not very accurate.

"Investment in family policy is as bad as in Greece and Portugal, and all other European and OECD (Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development) are ahead of the Swiss."

Meier-Schatz explained that despite a "very strong" focus on national family policy in Switzerland over the past 10 years, women were still a long way away from reaching the goal of equal rights.

She pointed to the government's announcement of a SFr1billion ($580 million) investment in day care centres over the next 10 years as proof that politicians were moving in the right direction.

But the Swiss as a whole had to resolve deep-seated sociological issues about the role of women in society, if full equality and rights were to be achieved, she added.

"I think we still have a long way to go. We are in a rather conservative period, politically speaking, and therefore there are elements which tend to say that women should still take care of education and stay at home," said Meier-Schatz.

"But I still place my hopes in the young women who have a far better education than 20 or 30 years ago and who are just not willing to leave their jobs and stay at home," said Meier-Schatz.

For parliamentarian Ruth Vermot-Mangold, one of the biggest issues for Switzerland to digest on Mother's Day is that of domestic violence. She told swissinfo that 20 per cent of Swiss women were victims of violence and sexual abuse in the home.

Her Mother's Day wish was for parliament to back a new law aimed at protecting women from physical abuse, which is due to be debated next month.

"Domestic violence is not a special problem for Switzerland. In every country you have this type of violence. But if we are to be free, to have a job, to have an education, to have healthcare, then we have to discuss the issue of violence against women. It's very important."

swissinfo with agencies

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