I knew that the right to vote for women had come late in Switzerland in 1971 but I didn’t know much more than that.

Last week I attended an exhibition on Women’s Rights with a friend at the Landesmuseum, Zurich. The exhibition started with a video of a woman walking through the streets shattering the windows of cars as she went by. Powerful start.

Artifacts and photos of the key people around Women’s Rights were laid out chronologically and presented well. As we sat down to listen to some of the beliefs and thoughts starting around the Napoleonic times, both my friend and I couldn’t believe what we were hearing. 

It’s not surprising for the time but still, to hear it again, things like women being the property of men, women having to be obedient to their husbands, women having to follow their husbands to where the man wanted to reside, etc. made our eyes roll.  It was archaic.

We saw some of the posters they used for the No campaign towards getting the vote and they were rather shocking. Women are made out to be unpredictable, dangerous, or ripped away from caring for the family. Then there were cases where women would be sent to psychiatric wards and drugged if they caused too much trouble.

At the end of the exhibition, they had interviews with young people talking about their experiences and one story really stood out for me. A woman who worked as a teaching assistant who was previously a man said that when she was a man and she raised a problem, the employer would say “We’ll look into it”, however when she raised issues as a woman, it wasn’t even addressed.


We still have a long way to go. The best thing we can do is to educate ourselves and our children so that we can move closer towards gender equality. 

The exhibition is still on for a few more days so if you can, check it out: https://www.landesmuseum.ch/women-rights