Gender equality in Switzerland: UN recommendations for action

Bern, 18.11.2016 - Switzerland must strengthen its institutional efforts regarding equality, do more to promote equality in the workplace and work harder to combat gender-based violence. This is what the UN committee of experts responsible for gender equality calls for in its recommendations – which were published today – for gender equality in Switzerland.

For the third time since 2001, the UN committee of experts responsible for gender equality reviewed the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in Switzerland. After Switzerland presented its progress and challenges in combating discrimination against women in early November, the UN committee today published about 70 recommendations for action in Switzerland.

The UN expressly welcomes 'the progress made by Switzerland in the area of equality', which is the result of legislative reforms, and highlights important steps towards equality, including the equal opportunities programmes at universities and technical colleges, the ratification of the ILO's Maternity Protection Convention, and the strengthening of measures to combat gender-based violence, such as female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage.

On the other hand, the UN considers Switzerland to be responsible for strengthening equality bodies at national and cantonal levels, as well as giving them sufficient powers and resources. According to the UN, there is also an urgent need for Switzerland to take action on improving women's economic independence. In this regard, the committee urges Switzerland to take further measures to combat wage inequality and promote the reconciliation of work and family life by providing childcare centres and the introduction of paternity leave. It also calls on Switzerland to intensify its efforts in the fight against gender-based violence. The UN recommendations also refer to Swiss foreign policy obligations, such as the protection of human rights defenders.

These recommendations are not legally binding for Switzerland. But as the UN committee of experts was set up to monitor application of the CEDAW, it does have considerable influence. The Federal Office for Gender Equality (FOGE) will therefore analyse the recommendations together with its partners and the federal authorities concerned, and clarify responsibilities. Within two years the committee has asked for an interim report from Switzerland on the implementation of the following three recommendations: develop a national equality strategy and an action plan to combat gender-based violence, and draw up a study on the effects of the pension system on low-income couples.

Switzerland ratified the CEDAW in 1997. Since then, it has been reporting regularly to the CEDAW committee on the implementation of the convention in Switzerland.

The CEDAW is one of the core treaties of international human rights protection and is the most important human rights instrument for women. Currently 189 countries are parties to the agreement.

Address for enquiries

Federal Office for Gender Equality
Schwarztorstrasse 51
3003 Bern


Federal Office for Gender Equality

General Secretariat FDHA