“My Advancine aims to inspire women to continue fighting for their rights as citizens and employees”
As active members of Advance, Swiss Post and PostFinance are sponsoring the 10-year anniversary of “Advance”. From 8 to 22 March 2023, the exhibition “Equal?! Switzerland on the path to equality”, will go on display at Zurich central station. So-called “Advancines” will be exhibited. The “Advancine” of Swiss Post and PostFinance is called “everyday superheroine” and was designed by Isabelle Friedmann. We talk to the artist about her work and the silent battle of those women whose work is not always recognized by society.
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Who is your Advancine?
The “everyday superheroine” is an advancine, a female figure painted white and made of synthetic resin – a white blank canvas almost – that the exhibition organizer AdvanceTarget not accessible gave to all participating artists for their design. My advancine is bold and symbolizes the silent heroines of everyday life.
What was your idea?
I wanted to focus on the jobs and professions which are often overlooked, but that ensure everyday life runs smoothly. That’s why my “everyday superheroine” is wearing a work uniform – the trousers represent female workers (roads and agriculture) in construction and agriculture, the gown or apron epitomises women working in care, on one hand, but also looking after their family and home on the other. The figure’s left arm resembles the work outfits of the two largest Swiss retailers, underlined by the shopping bag in the hand. The right arm – with a pen, soft toy and seatbelt for nursery children – eludes to female workers in childcare and primary education. The blouse of the “everyday superheroine” symbolizes the often unseen female employees in telecommunications – including postmistresses. Last but certainly not least, the figure’s body is adorned by a baby bump. This represents motherhood and family chores without which society would have no future, but which for women in Switzerland unfortunately mean loss of earnings and career setbacks.
Advancine adopts a rather combative pose. Why is that?
I see the sculpture’s pose as being more progressive and welcome this movement towards a better future! Lots of women in Switzerland and worldwide are still affected by (structural, financial and physical) discrimination, violence and exploitation. My design pays homage to the strength and heroism which make women so resilient and inspire them to continue fighting for their human rights and rights as citizens and employees.
How do you view equality?
As a cultural scholar, scout leader for many years, a woman and someone personally affected, I’ve had a strong interest in the issues of social inequality, (un)equal opportunity and gender equality in the sense of ‘unity in diversity’ for a long time. That’s why I’m delighted that Advance has created a wonderful platform for the issue from the economy’s perspective on International Women’s Day this year and I hope that the attention generated by the art contributes to genuine improvements.
In your view, are we making progress towards equality?
We’re continually suffering setbacks on this path in Switzerland at the moment, which means there’s still much to do. But awareness of inequality in society as a whole has increased in recent years and the voices opposing it are being heard more, which is a positive sign. But as I said, there’s still much to do. This includes issues like (un)equal opportunity when starting careers, good work-life balance – or lack of it – poverty for women in old age and femicide – it’s nothing new for us women. That’s why achieving equality is so important, and as Dr Walter von Bonstetten (1867-1949), former President of the Swiss Scouting Federation, said in 1935: “nüt nalah gwinnt” (never give up).
What are your hopes for young women?
I’d love them to enjoy a future where equality becomes a reality. I’d like to see obstacles removed so that the situation improves, for single mothers or elderly women not to have to worry about slipping into poverty and for them to be protected against any form of violence. That should actually go without saying and can be achieved with the help of modern, supportive and emancipated men. “I ask no favour for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks” (Ruth Bader Ginsburg),
Swiss Post’s commitment
Swiss Post is strongly committed to diversity and inclusion. The Executive Management of Swiss Post and PostFinance have set themselves the goal of increasing the share of women in management (employees in management and management under the collective employment agreement) from 22 to 30 percent by the end of 2024. In order to achieve this goal, two priorities will be focused on: Firstly, greater targeting of women in recruitment. And secondly, we will also continue to focus on ensuring attractive employment conditions for wide-ranging needs. For example, by supporting all employees to achieve a good balance between work, family life and leisure time regardless of gender. Its SmartWork initiative creates optimal conditions for working from anywhere and at any time and provides more positions with options for part-time work, top-sharing and job-sharing.