Women's strike in Switzerland: What expats need to know

Women's strike in Switzerland: What expats need to know

Every year on June 14, people across the country come together to strike on the anniversary of when gender equality was made a matter of law in Switzerland. The event is designed to highlight women’s issues by bringing disruption to Swiss cities and cantons.

What is the Swiss women's strike?

After two years of COVID cancellations, the women’s strike is set to return to the streets of Switzerland this week. It is one of the largest demonstrations in the country, with 500.000 people attending strike events in 2019. The event aims to “take over” the streets with banners, protests and speeches, causing mass disruption designed to highlight their causes.

The so-called “purple wave” is held annually on June 14 - the date when women’s equality under the law was approved by Swiss citizens at a referendum in 1981. Every year, the march hopes to promote the major issues women face in the present, such as unequal salaries, working hours, and premarital and reproductive rights.

What are the goals of the women's rights march in Switzerland?

After being cancelled two years in a row, the 2022 event is expected to be quite rowdy, with a spokesperson from the Swiss Trade Union noting that there has been “almost no progress” in forwarding women's rights since the last event in 2019. Some of the most pressing issues raised this year include the ongoing debate over consent laws, individual taxation of married couples, and greater participation of women in politics.

“The wage gap between men and women has widened further,” said state councillor Céline Vara, asserting that much more work needs to be done to achieve gender equality. She called on the government to approve measures such as granting more parental leave, improving childcare services and scrapping plans to raise the retirement age for women.

Where and when is the women's strike in Switzerland being held?

The event on June 14 is set to take place across multiple cities and cantons, so drivers and commuters should expect large disruption once the event gets underway. The first women's strike of the day is due to take place in Bern between 3pm and 11pm. If you are looking to avoid the jams, or plan to attend the event yourself, these are the official start locations and times for the other strikes across Switzerland:

Swiss women's strikes starting at 5.30pm

  • Chur, Alexanderplatz

Swiss women's strikes starting at 6pm

Swiss women's strikes starting at 6.30pm

  • Lausanne, Place de la Riponne
  • Fribourg, Place Pythonne

Check traffic reports regularly during the strike

If attendance numbers are similar to 2019, roads and motorways across each of these cities are expected to be affected. Check traffic reports regularly if you are planning a journey during these times and leave ample time for any possible delays.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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