When Switzerland Was Ruled By Women
It must have been late autumn ten years ago when I got a mail from photographer Brigitte Lacombe, forwarding a headline in the "New York Times " printed that day as a lead story "Switzerland ruled by women" - because the Federal Council that takes care of our little country, was lead by seven people, meaning: from that very moment on, women had the majority.
"We have to do the story", Brigitte Lacombe went on in that mail, "it is sensational!"
I was editor then at Annabelle and had worked before with the great photographer, three years earlier she had cuptured women between 50 and 80 years old naked; the issue had caused quite a stir and was sold out within days.
Funny enough, it was even harder to get our four new leaders together in one room for three hours to get their portrait - it took some time, several mails and phone calls - and four beautiful coffeetable books of Brigitte Lacombe´s Hollywood-stars-portfolios, delivered personally onto every single desk of those ladies, to get them for that historic shooting on December 3rd 2010.
Simonetta Sommaruga, Micheline Calmy-Rey, Doris Leuthard and Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf were willing to give us their precious time under the condition we talk about what was historically even more important: the anniversary of women´s constitutional right to vote, in Switzerland only 40 years ago in 2011 - watch the charming movie "Die göttliche Ordnung" if you would not believe....
So when today the first snow fell in Switzerland I was reminded of that very morning in December 2010, when I rushed from Zurich to Bern, together with Annabelle´s reporter Barbara Achermann to cover the thoughts of our councelors about that specific achievement...
...but it was only later that day, when we had a glass of champagne with the whole team, that Brigitte Lacombe said: "Like with our president Barack Obama - race and gender is only as important as deeds. Let us hope, they will succeed."
That situation within the Federal Council only lasted one year, then Micheline Calmy-Rey was followed by Alain Berset, until today a member of the Federal Council. Together with Simonetta Somaruga, Karin Keller-Sutter, and Viola Amherd. Not quite a majority, but important female influencers within Switzerland´s political scene.
Welcome to 2021, when we celebrate 50 years of women´s right to vote in Switzerland.