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?

The women's strike in Switzerland is one of the largest demonstrations to be held in the country each year - 500.000 people attended strike events in 2019. The event aims to “take over” the streets with banners, protests and speeches, causing mass disruption designed to highlight women's rights issues.

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?

The 2023 event is expected to be quite rowdy, with a spokesperson from the Swiss Trade Union Federation noting that there has been “almost no progress” in forwarding women's rights since the first major women's strike in 2019. Some of the most pressing issues raised this year include the gender pay gap, "family-friendly" working hours, tougher measures against harassment and greater access to childcare services.

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 events get underway. Official women's strike events like speeches, lectures and other forms of protest usually start at 9am and continue on into the early hours of the morning - although the main marches and demonstrations usually take place from 5pm. The largest processions are held in Zurich, Bern, Geneva, Lausanne and Basel.

For more information about what strike events are taking place where you live, check out the official website.

Check traffic reports regularly during the strike

If attendance numbers are similar to 2019, roads and motorways across all Swiss 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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