Hundreds protest vote to raise women’s retirement age in Switzerland

Hundreds protest vote to raise women’s retirement age in Switzerland
Protest in Bern against the "AVS 21", 19/09/21. Photo: Gustave Deghilage / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Hundreds of people protested in the Swiss capital Bern today against the pension reform voted through on Sunday. Just over half the population (50.6%) were in favour of raising the retirement age for women from 64 to 65 years – which would make it the same as for men.

According to the government, the reform is designed to boost the underfinanced state pension system and will save 4.9 billion francs ($5 billion) in pension funds by 2032.

But opponents to the plan say the reform is unfair to women as they face significant discrimination and a broad gender pay-gap, meaning they receive lower pensions than men. In 2020, women received on average 35% less pension income than men, according to the Swiss economy ministry. 

“Women’s pension income will be reduced by 7 billion Swiss francs ($7.1 billion) over the next 10 years: a slap in the face of all women,” the Swiss Socialist Party’s women’s group said in a statement. They demand that the retirement age should not be raised without first addressing those issues.

Speaking after the referendum on Sunday, Interior Minister Alain Berset said the strength of opposition “is a clear signal to parliament to seek solutions to improve the position of women in a reform of the occupational pension system.”

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