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June 14, 1991 25 years of the women's strike

If it’s a woman’s will, everything will stand still” was the slogan of the nationwide women’s strike 25 years ago that brought around half a million women out onto the streets.

They were calling for more action, ten years after equality between men and women had been enshrined in the constitution.

The women were workers, graduates, civil servants, mothers and housewives from all over the country and from all language regions. The issues: the slow implementation of the equality article in the constitution and the need for an equality law. The strike was loud, colourful and full of imagination and took place in the same year that Switzerland celebrated the 700th anniversary of its founding. It is considered a key moment in Swiss history.

The equality law came into force in 1996, following an acrimonious debate in parliament. But women still earn on average 15% less than men. So they still protest and demand their rights every June 14, even if the numbers are not as high as in 1991.

On Tuesday, women will once again protest against the status quo. In several Swiss cities they are organising “events and extended lunches”. 

“We’re hitting the streets with a clear message: salary controls – now more than ever!” said Regula Bühlmann, secretary of the Swiss Trade Union Federation.

(Photos: Keystone, Text: Gaby Ochsenbein,

Is there gender equality where you live? Tell us in the comments section below. 

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