Political advocacy on referenda and initiatives: Referenda

We engage in alliances with like-minded organisations in referenda in Switzerland on political proposals and initiatives on issues relevant to our work.

Responsible Business Initiative

Companies based in Switzerland should ensure that they and their subsidiaries abroad comply with human rights and environmental protection standards. Violations must have consequences; corporations should be liable for any damage caused. This is the demand of the initiative "For responsible companies - to protect people and the environment" ("Responsible Business Initiative"), which was launched in 2015. The demands of the initiative correspond to the practice in other countries.

We were part of a broad coalition of over 110 organisations that supported the initiative. Since environmental degradation and human rights violations have gendered impacts that disproportionately affect women and marginalised people of all genders, this initiative also supported a feminist cause.

The initiative reached the popular majority in 2020 but was rejected due to the majority of the cantons. The Federal Council's counter-proposal came into force in 2022. The initiators rejected it because it did not go far enough. In the same year, they launched a second collection of signatures after the European Union presented a proposal for an EU-wide corporate responsibility law at the end of February. Switzerland should not remain the only European country without regulations in this area.  

Feminists on the Responsible Business Initiative (German, 2020) 163.98 KB, PDF

Against arms exports to countries at war

We were part of an alliance of individuals, non-governmental organisations, politicians and many volunteers that broke a Swiss record in collecting signatures online in 2019 for its initiative "Against Arms Exports to Countries at Civil War" ("Corrective Initiative"). The initiative demanded: Swiss weapons should no longer be exported to countries that systematically and seriously violate human rights or to a country involved in an armed conflict. Furthermore, the Federal Council should no longer decide alone on war material exports – parliament and the people must have a say.

The initiative was withdrawn in 2021 after the Federal Council's counter-proposal was passed by parliament. The counter-proposal has met the majority of the initiative’s concerns.

Police Measures Act

In March 2021, a broad coalition of Swiss non-governmental organisations launched the referendum campaign against the "Federal Law on Police Measures to Combat Terrorism PMT" ("Police Measures Act"). As a member of the alliance, we argued against this law from a feminist perspective and also warned against arbitrary use of police power and endangering the rule of law.

In June 2021, Swiss voters voted 56.6% in favour of the Police Measures Act. Arguments and documents: www.nein-polizeigesetz.ch.

War Business Initiative

In view of the billions invested in the Swiss arms industry, the initiative "For a ban on the financing of war material producers" ("War Business Initiative") demanded that the Swiss National Bank as well as state and occupational pension funds and foundations should not be allowed to invest money in war material producers. The initiative thus demanded a legal ban on investments in the arms industry.

As a feminist peace organisation committed to demilitarisation, we support this initiative for several reasons: weapons always lead to greater insecurity, women are particularly affected by armed conflict, and weapons that remain in circulation after a conflict ends have been shown to lead to an increase in gender-based violence.

The initiative came about in 2018 and was supported by around 30 organisations. In November 2020, it was rejected at the ballot box with 57.7%.

Eine Grafik mit 6 Post-its zeigt die Argumente für ein JA zur Kriegsgeschäfte-Initiative
Initiative on the ban on full facial coverings

The popular initiative "Yes to the ban on full facial coverings" was claimed to be about women's individual freedom and their protection from patriarchal constraints. We consider this ban dangerous: it fuels anti-Muslim racism and instrumentalises women's rights in political discourse. Together with our cooperation partner, the feminist peace organisation cfd, we argued for a rejection of the ban.

In March 2021, Swiss voters narrowly said yes to the popular initiative with 51.2%.