What struggles were faced by the first twelve women to sit in parliament? As a very small minority in the Federal Assembly, how did they express their political commitment and pass on their ideas to their male colleagues? The Valaisanne Gabrielle Nanchen, who was twenty-eight years old when she was elected as a member of the Socialist Party in 1971, tells her story and addresses young women who want to enter politics.

Gabrielle Nanchen was born in the canton of Vaud in 1943. After studying social sciences, she and her husband moved to live in his home canton, Valais, which meant that, as a woman, she lost the right to vote at cantonal level. She joined the Valais Socialist Party. In addition to being a member of the Federal Assembly, she was president of the ‘Women, Meetings, Work’ association, vice president of the Federal Commission for Women's Issues, president of Swissaid, delegate to the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) for North-South Issues, president of the Foundation for the Sustainable Development of Mountain Regions and member of the ICRC Assembly. She is co-founder and former president of the Association Compostelle-Cordoue, which fosters exchange between cultures by walking, talking and understanding.


Gabrielle Nanchen is the author of:

  • Hommes et femmes, le partage, Ed. Pierre-Marcel Favre, 1981
  • Amour et pouvoir, Des hommes, des femmes et des valeurs, Ed. Pierre-Marcel Favre, 1990
  • Compostelle, de la Reconquista à la réconciliation, Ed. Saint-Augustin, 2008
  • Saint-Jacques de Compostelle, De Suisse en Galice, un chemin vers soi-même, Vevey, 2009, Ed. Mondo
  • Compostelle-Cordoue, Marche et Rencontre. Un témoignage collectif sous la direction de Gabrielle Nanchen et Louis Mollaret, Ed. Saint-Augustin 2012. JB
  • Le goût des autres. Des nouvelles du vivre ensemble, Ed. Saint-Augustin, 2018.