UN Convention on Women’s rights: Switzerland on course, but challenges remain

Bern, 25.11.2020 - In its sixth report on the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), Switzerland gives a positive account of the progress being made. The country is drawing up its first national equality strategy and several changes have been made to the law to improve equality. However, the report also refers to continuing challenges, such as inequality in the workplace and violence against women. The Federal Council approved the report at its meeting on 25 November.

Significant steps have been taken to establish greater equality at political level. The national equality strategy introduced into the Federal Council's 2019-2023 legislature plan is currently being drawn up and is due to be approved next year. This demonstrates that the Federal Council has made greater equality between men and women a policy priority.

The report mentions a series of new legislative provisions to improve equality: the requirement to conduct an equal pay analysis, improvements in the protection of persons who suffer violence, greater flexibility in balancing work and care duties for family members, and, in revised company legislation, the introduction of guidelines on the gender composition of boards of directors and management boards. And following the 2019 elections, the proportion of women in the federal parliament is higher than ever before.

However, the Convention's aim of eliminating all forms of discrimination against women has not yet been achieved. The report lists the challenges still facing Switzerland: persistent wage differences between the sexes, the underrepresentation of women in managerial positions, the difficulties in balancing work and private life, domestic violence and violence against women in general.

The report stresses the important role played by the cantons in dealing with these challenges. For example, they are heavily involved in the implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention). They are also active in improving wage equality: 16 cantons have signed the federal Wage Equality Charter, a clear sign of their efforts in this area.

The UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is one of the core international agreements in the protection of human rights and the most important instrument in protecting women's rights. It has been ratified by 189 countries; Switzerland joined the Convention in 1997. Switzerland regularly issues reports summarising the progress it has made in achieving the Convention's aims. The last report was published in 2014. Now that the latest report has been approved by the Federal Council it will be assessed by the CEDAW Committee.

Address for enquiries

Sylvie Durrer
Director Federal Office for Gender Equality
Tel. 058 462 68 40


The Federal Council

General Secretariat FDHA

Federal Office for Gender Equality