Monday, 28 May 2018

SWI Leuthard: ‘Federal Council was braver with a female majority’

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Women politicians
Leuthard: ‘Federal Council was braver with a female majority’


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This content was published on May 27, 2018 11:55 AM May 27, 2018 - 11:55
Doris Leuthard

Doris Leuthard was one of the four women in Switzerland's only female-majority cabinet

Switzerland’s seven-person Federal Council was braver when it wasn’t dominated by men, according to Doris Leuthard, the environment, transport, energy and communications minister.

“With a female majority in the cabinet we reached more courageous decisions than previously – and since,” she said in an interviewexternal link with the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper.

Leuthard said that having more women in the cabinet than men was a crucial factor in the decision to phase out nuclear power in 2011.
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“I got the general impression that women in executive positions feel less bound by party politics than men,” she said.

Between September 2010 and January 2012, four women – Simonetta Sommaruga, Micheline Calmy-Rey, Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf and Leuthard – sat in the Swiss cabinet for the first and only time.

This was hailed as a symbolic moment for women’s rights in a country that only gave women the vote at a federal level in 1971 (Appenzell Inner Rhodes held out until 1991 at a cantonal level) and didn't see its first cabinet minister, Elisabeth Kopp, until 1984.

At present, the Federal Councilexternal link comprises only two women, Leuthard and Sommaruga.
No to quotas

Leuthard, who is not standing for re-election next year, called for the proportion of women in parliamentexternal link to increase at the 2019 elections – something that didn’t happen in 2015. Currently 32% of the House of Representatives and 15% of the Senate are women.

However, Leuthard said she was against quotas. It was more important, she believed, for female politicians to be supported by their parties and to take positions in important committees. Women must also be supported in businesses and management, she said.

Support and promotion are necessary as long as women are underrepresented and they don’t have the same opportunities as men, she said. “With equal qualifications, care must be paid to recruit more women. Mixed teams would work better.”

The promotion of women is up to bosses, she said, adding that she had discussed corresponding proposals with her heads of departments.
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