What a moving coincidence: my nomination as president of the National Council in the winter session of 2021 coincided with the fiftieth anniversary of women entering Parliament. Hedi Lang-Gehri; Martha Ribi-Raschle; Josi Meier; Elisabeth Blunschy-Steiner; Lilian Uchtenhagen; Liselotte Spreng; Hanny Thalmann; Gabrielle Nanchen; Tilo Frey; Nelly Wicky; Hanna Sahlfeld-Singer – every student in this country should know the names of these pioneers. 

Let us remember that Gabrielle Nanchen and Hanna Sahlfeld left office prematurely owing to inadequate conditions allowing them to reconcile work and family life. I took up their struggle when I simultaneously learned of my pregnancy and my election to the Swiss Parliament. It was a wonderful experience to take my baby to the Parliament Building and breastfeed him in the lobby, so as not to miss the voting and to fulfil my role as an elected representative.

I welcome the initiative by Marina Carobbio and Isabelle Moret, the first two patrons of the Political Women webpage, which led to the creation of a breastfeeding and childcare room. But there is still much to do if young parents, particularly young mothers, are to embrace their roles as members of Parliament.  

The Political Women webpage, which aims to encourage women to enter politics, will hopefully provide information on new developments to support people in reconciling their political commitments with educational and family responsibilities.   

I also hope that the pandemic will come to an end this year so that we can appropriately mark International Women’s Rights Day and highlight the role of women in Swiss democracy.

Video of inauguration speech of the president of National Council Irène Kälin

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