DECEMBER 26, 1947
HYDE PARK, Thursday—During a talk with some of the leaders of the women suffrage movement in Switzerland, I learned a number of reasons why this is still something that only a few women work for in that country.
In the first place, the laws affecting women are fairly good. A woman who has money of her own may keep it and control it after marriage. If there's a divorce, she has as much right over the children as her husband has. And I was told that if a working woman goes to court because her husband doesn't give her enough money, the court is usually very ready to consider her case favorably.
In Switzerland, there are many referendums. In fact, one person said laughingly that every Sunday they had to go and vote on some question—whether it was a proposed change in a road or a fiscal question of great importance. It's true, however, that the people are voting continuously on various things all through the year. Thus, the Swiss women, who traditionally work a good deal in their own homes—particularly the young ones—feel that this added burden, if they were conscientious about voting, might be quite heavy.
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In addition, the Swiss—both men and women—are conservative by nature. The women feel they have influence over their men in their homes. A change might not be all they had hoped for. I think that's the chief reason why, so far, suffrage for women has been defeated in Switzerland.
A woman lawyer, however, told me she felt that women who work really needed direct power in the government, since few of them would go into court and therefore many of them who had no actual right to a given amount of their husband's wages found things extremely difficult.
I had never before understood why there should be any question about votes for women in that small democratic country, but I begin to see that there's a problem. Where there's an innate conservatism such as you find among the Swiss, it may take longer to convince the women that they actually need the vote than it would to convince the men.
In addition, I think there's concern as to the possibility of upsetting the present balance between the political parties if votes were to be given to women.