Women in the Federal Council

On 22 September 2010, when Simonetta Sommaruga joined the Federal Council, it was the first time that a majority of its members had been women, with four women and three men. It was a symbolic moment, after a long wait. The female majority remained until Micheline Calmy-Rey stood down at the end of 2011.

Majority of women in the Federal Council. With the election of Simonetta Sommaruga on 22 September 2010, four women were represented in the Federal Council for the first time. From left to right, President Doris Leuthard, Micheline Calmy-Rey, Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, Ueli Maurer, Didier Burkhalter, Simonetta Sommaruga and Johann Schneider-Ammann, and Federal Chancellor Corina Casanova.
Majority of women in the Federal Council. With the election of Simonetta Sommaruga on 22 September 2010, four women were represented in the Federal Council for the first time. From left to right, President Doris Leuthard, Micheline Calmy-Rey, Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, Ueli Maurer, Didier Burkhalter, Simonetta Sommaruga and Johann Schneider-Ammann, and Federal Chancellor Corina Casanova.

1984: The first woman

It had taken until 1984, and the election of Elisabeth Kopp, for a Swiss woman to become a member of the federal government. After gaining the right to vote and to stand in elections in 1971, women had to wait patiently for a further 13 years for the first female member to be elected to the Federal Councils.

The first woman elected to the Federal Council: Accompanied by two clerks, Elisabeth Kopp raises her right hand to take oath at her swearing in in the National Council chamber on 2 October 1984.
The first woman elected to the Federal Council: Accompanied by two clerks, Elisabeth Kopp raises her right hand to take oath at her swearing in on 2 October 1984. (KEYSTONE/str)

Her successors

Today, there are three women members of the Federal Council: Doris Leuthard (elected in 2006), Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf (elected in 2007), and Simonetta Sommaruga (elected in 2010). As Corina Casanova (elected in 2007), head of the Federal Chancellery, also participates in Federal Council meetings, the Federal Council currently has an equal number of male and female members.

Apart from the politicians already mentioned, Ruth Dreifuss (1993-2002, first female president of the Swiss Confederation in 1999) and Ruth Metzler-Arnold (1999-2003) have also held seats in the Federal Council, bringing the total of female members so far to seven.

Last modification 15.09.2017

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