Switzerland only gave women the right to vote in 1971.

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Post First Published: 5/01/2022 – Post First Updated: 1/09/2022

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Swiss women get the vote – archive, 1971

compiled by Richard Nelsson Wednesday 10 Feb 2021 21.59 AEDT

8 February 1971

Swiss men decided yesterday to give women the vote in national elections for the first time in the country’s history. According to official results of a referendum announced in Berne, 621,403 men supported the vote for women, with 323,596 against.

The voting reversed a previous referendum in 1959 when women’s suffrage was rejected by 654,924 votes to 323,306. Switzerland was the last European nation among a handful of countries, including Yemen and Saudi Arabia, to deny women the vote. Swiss women, however, had been able to vote in regional affairs in 10 of the country’s 25 cantons and half cantons, including all the French and Italian-speaking areas.

One of the peculiarities of the situation was the activity of a Swiss organisation called Swiss Women Against Voting Rights Association which opposed women’s suffrage on the ground that women were meant to be housewives and mothers, not politicians. This view prevailed in Schwyz canton, from which Switzerland took her name, where the idea was rejected yesterday by 7,701 votes to 6,821.

Woman’s Guardian

By Mary Stott
10 February 1971

Supposing Switzerland had produced an Emmeline Pankhurst. Would it have taken Swiss women until Sunday’s referendum to get the vote at federal level? Swiss hausfraus, the Kirche, Kinder, and Küche brigade – as distinct from the French and Italian speakers – have been more resistant to the idea of taking part in democratic processes than any women in the world – the mind boggles at the thought of able and forceful Swiss women one has met, some efficiently running businesses of their own, saying firmly: “Voting is men’s business” – but could not Betty Freidan’s darts have penetrated even their well-corseted bosoms?
This is an edited extract. Read in full.

Male vote for male vote in Liechtenstein

From a special correspondent in Berne
13 February 1973

The men of Liechtenstein have just decided that their women are still not ready to vote. The main reason for the decision is that the country’s female electorate would have outnumbered the men – and most of the women who would have gained the vote would be foreigners. Half the married women in the principality are foreign born, but would automatically be enfranchised, whereas Liechtenstein women married to foreign immigrants lose their citizenship and have no political rights.

Liechtenstein usually takes its political cues from its neighbour, Switzerland, whose currency, customs and postal facilities it shares. Switzerland gave its women the vote at a federal level two years ago. But lest anyone thinks that Swiss women are in the vanguard of the European women’s lib movement, two reminders to the contrary were served up at the weekend.

Women gather to protest in Lucerne.

In the canton of Basel, a seminar debating a paper called The real face of Switzerland heard the average Swiss woman described as solid, conservative, and dependent on her husband. Swiss women, delegates were told, took a great pride in their role as mothers and housekeepers.

At the same time, the Association of Swiss Guides decided it was not going to allow women guides to show tourists round mountain resorts, and that such work would be best left to men and dogs.
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