Who run the world?
When you are living abroad, you either feel a little detached from what’s happening at home, or you grow a weird obsession. I count myself among the first. Swiss really sweat the small stuff. Most recently, the question of whether or not cattle should be dehorned has dominated the public agenda. Compared to what’s happening in the rest of the world – come on.
But on Wednesday, the Swiss really blew my mind when the Parliament elected two women into the Federal Government for the very first time in history. Thirty years after the first female Federal Council and 47 years after women gained the right to vote, there still have been no more than seven women in the Federal Council, compared to 110 men.
The current double support for female candidates in government is a clear credo for the future.
“A historic day for women,” the Swiss newspaper Tagblatt said. Some voices on social media were more critical.
“What a shame that still today we celebrate this as something unusual,” human rights activist Stefanie Rinaldi tweeted. I agree, it’s a shame, but it is the reality.
Yes, Germany has had a female chancellor for 13 years. Yes, Hilary Clinton, almost became President of the United States. However, if we look at the hard facts, women are still underrepresented in political leadership positions around the world.
Women’s political representation is rising slowly, which is still good news. According to the United Nations Women in Politics 2017 map, the global average of women in national parliaments increased just slightly from 22.6 percent in 2015 to 23.3 percent in 2016. In China, 24.9 percent of the 13th National People’s Congress deputies were female, an increase by 1.5 percent compared to the past year. In Swiss politics, women make up for less than 25 percent overall, while having a share of 32 percent. The Swiss government election proves that the reality for women in politics is changing for the better, and this is worth celebrating.
“It’s a step in the right direction when nobody will pay special attention to gender,” newly elected Viola Amherd said during her first press conference as Federal Council on Wednesday.
Women make up for half of the population. We share common issues that need to be addressed by someone from our rows who have experienced what it means to be a woman in today’s world.
“I’d rather use the term ‘equal opportunities’ instead of ‘feminism,’” newly elected Federal Council Karin KellerSutter told the media, adding that the state should guarantee the access to equal opportunities for all people.
The truth is, female leaders are as effective as their male counterparts. In female-dominated settings, a female boss might even be more effective, according to the American Psychological Association – which would also explain why the only successful large reform of the current legislation was the turnaround in energy policy, achieved in 2011 when women constituted the majority of the Swiss government for that year.
December 5, the day when the Swiss Parliament elected two female Federal Councils, shall become a symbol for girls and women to stand up for themselves and defend their values and interests, it will encourage them for political engagement or to take a leadership role in their neighborhood, company, or family. This is our time. Women around the world, let’s take this opportunity to contribute to the benefit of the communities we live in!