50 years women’s suffrage
7 February 1971 is an historic date, as the Swiss political system finally became a democracy worthy of the name: on this day, Switzerland became one of the last countries to grant women the vote.
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The stamp marking the 50th anniversary of this decision features Helvetia, the iconic figure of Swiss democracy, casting her vote at the ballot box. The image focuses on this symbolic act. Inspired by the women’s strike movement, the stamp features warm shades of violet. Whenever they use the stamp, senders are taking a stand for equal rights.
The association CH2021, a trilingual information center, was founded as a fitting tribute to the anniversary year. An overview of all events taking place in 2021 can be found at www.ch2021.ch. The website also contains historical and current information on women’s rights.
An interview with Zita Küng and Andrea Maihofer, the founders of the association CH2021
The association CH2021 is an information hub for the activities marking the 50th anniversary of women’s suffrage. Which of these activities do you view as most important?
Z. Küng: For me, the most important aspect is that people from a wide variety of social settings are planning something for this year. Democracy, participation and co-determination are clearly key issues for many people. The anniversary is also being marked in so many different ways, including lighting concepts, books, games, musical programmes, studies, exhibitions, radio shows for young people, debates, theatre plays and motorcycle rallies. Everything’s welcome – everything belongs to our time. I’m not sure whether I think large, spectacular events or small, clever activities are more important. It’s wonderful that both are being planned.
A. Maihofer: I think that because people are so different, they all find different things thought-provoking. That’s why I find it so important that a wide range of activities is taking place, and that past achievements are being recognized.
On 5 March 1957, Swiss women voted for the first time in Unterbäch (on the issue of whether to introduce mandatory civil defence duties for women). But it was just a symbolic act, as the votes weren’t even counted. Or maybe it was more than a symbol? What does that place and date mean to you?
Z. Küng: It was an unthinkable act at the time – extremely courageous. The global media interest showed that a truly momentous event for Switzerland had taken place in Unterbäch. The fact that the women of Unterbäch – with support from their male allies – publicly expressed their desire to voice their opinion was of symbolic importance, but it also highlighted the fact that flagrant discrimination was taking place and that these women were no longer prepared to tolerate it. Unterbäch is sometimes seen as the defining moment for Swiss women, a reminder of the long battle that generations of women had to fight to secure their political participation in democracy.
A. Maihofer: I couldn’t agree more!
Women’s suffrage is just one of the many aspects that constitute complete equality. To what extent can the anniversary contribute towards achieving the overarching goal of equality?
Z. Küng: 2021 presents an opportunity to reflect, to analyse developments and to remind ourselves where we are in our democracy and why. The anniversary allows us to pause for breath. This is important for taking stock of the situation, setting the path for the future and encouraging lots of people to get involved. Swiss women have realized that the formal right to vote in elections and referendums has not automatically meant that living and breathing women with their own ideas are welcome everywhere or able to participate on an equal footing. This process is still ongoing. Consciously sharing power remains an issue.
A. Maihofer: If the anniversary manages to convey to the wider public that it’s now finally time to take the next specific steps towards achieving genuine equality and that this represents a huge challenge, we will have achieved a great deal.
Philately: from 25.2.2021 to 31.3.2022 or while stocks last
Branches: from 4.3.2021 to 31.3.2022 or while stocks last
Unlimited from 4.3.2021
Offset, 4-colour; Cartor Security Printing, La Loupe, France
Stamps: 28 × 33 mm
Sheetlet: 192 × 95 mm
(2 rows of 4 stamps)
White stamp paper with optical brightener, matt gummed, 110 gm²
13 ½ : 13 ¼
Fabienne Angehrn, Lucerne