ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

Back to Paper Details

Women’s Policy Agencies in Switzerland: Institutional Potential and Political Conflict

Policy Analysis
Public Administration
Domestic Politics
Policy Implementation
Gesine Fuchs
Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts
Gesine Fuchs
Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts
Download Full Paper

Abstract

Despite widespread rhetorical commitments to gender equality, corresponding policies remain highly contested in Swiss politics. As a federal state with high diversity and several cross-cutting cleavages, Switzerland depends on consensus and compromise. The proposed Paper argues that the actual policy mix can be seen as the result of societal relations of power and of basic normative but rarely voiced conflicts. However, progress will only be possible via a broad open debate. Current Swiss gender equality measures are characterised by a pronounced diversity, but they lack sustainable success in terms of equal distribution of money, power, time and recognition. Women’s Policy Agencies (WPA) are important institutions for mainstreaming gender equality perspectives into all policy fields. In which respect Swiss WPA could bring about the much needed achievements? The paper thus analyses the WPAs in Switzerland, namely their institutionalization, their – varying – tasks and competences, as well as cantonal political initiatives to abolish, reduce or reinstate WPAs in recent years. The cantonal debates in Parliament evade normative arguments on gender equality as such, but employ harsh words and clear argumentation patterns. Moreover, these disputes try to renegotiate the public-private divide and the role of the state in society. Compared to policies in the European Union, the weak legal foundations of gender equality and anti-discrimination policies in Switzerland are a serious obstacle to effective WPAs.