World Europe 15 Jun 2019 Swiss women hold pro ...

Swiss women hold protests for equal pay

AGENCIES
Published Jun 15, 2019, 3:22 am IST
Updated Jun 15, 2019, 3:22 am IST
Massive nationwide strike comes 28 years after women protested inequality.
Women whistle during a flashmob as part of a nation-wide women’s strike for wage parity, on Friday at the railway station in Lausanne. (Photo: AFP)
 Women whistle during a flashmob as part of a nation-wide women’s strike for wage parity, on Friday at the railway station in Lausanne. (Photo: AFP)

Geneva: Statues draped in purple in Neuch-atel, blocked traffic in Lausanne and a massive clenched fist feminist symbol projected onto a skyscraper in Basel: women across Switzerland went on strike on Friday for equal pay.

They staged various actions to vent their frustration with persistent gender discrimination and wage gaps in the wealthy Alpine nation.

 

The strike comes nearly three decades after women held the country’s first nationwide strike for equal pay. Events planned throughout the day range from pram marches to whistle concerts and giant picnics.

Huge demonstrations are planned Friday evening in several cities, including in front of the government headquarters in Bern.

Unions and rights groups organising the events are hoping to see a sea of purple — the colour chosen to show solidarity with the cause — but with thunder storms and rain drenching a country where work stoppages are rare, the turnout remains uncertain.

In Lausanne, the events kicked off overnight, with women ringing the bells of the cathedral, which was lit up in purple, and lighting a “bonfire of joy”.

By morning, 500 people gathered for a massive breakfast celebration, blocking traffic on one of the town’s main bridges.

In Zurich, demonstrators pulled a giant, pink clitoris perched on a cart through the city, while in Basel they projected the feminist fist symbol onto the skyscraper headquarters of pharmaceutical giant Roche.

In Bern, parliamentarians, meanwhile, took a 15-minute break from their discussions to mark the occasion, with many of the MPs and at least one government minister dressed in purple and sporting feminist badges.

The events come exactly 28 years after half a million women walked out of their workplaces or homes across Switzerland to protest persistent inequalities, on June 14, 1991.

That was 10 years after equality between the sexes was enshrined in the Swiss constitution.

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