Give Women An Inch and They Take a Whole Country

Simonetta Sommaruga, left, talks to Erika Forster

Switzerland had to be dragged up the steps of equality, kicking and screaming before it finally had a federal referendum allowing women’s suffrage in 1971. Although some cantons allowed women’s suffrage prior to that, much like some states, the federal mandate earned the country the status of being the LAST Western republic to allow women the right to vote.

Switzerland earned another distinction this week, it became the fifth country behind Cape Verde, Finland, Norway and Spain to have a female majority in its cabinet.   Switzerland is truly a consensus government. Although they have a president, the Swiss are governed by a Federal Council made up of a seven member cabinet elected by the Federal Assembly (the Federal Assembly is elected by the people). Each Council member heads up a different executive branch and major decisions for the country are made by the group as a whole. The position of president is rotated every year among the seven Federal Council members.

Switzerland had its first female president in 1999. The U.S. is still waiting. President Obama’s cabinet is made up of four women, 11 men.  Of our 100 senators, only 17 are female.  There are 76 women of 435 members serving in the House of Representatives.

Maybe there was something to the waiting.

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