16 March, 2021. To be able to shape the future, we need to see opportunities for positive change. And there are significantly more women than men who see very great opportunities for shaping the political stage. Their visions are a resource that a future-oriented society knows how to use.
Swiss women are realistic optimists: they see the need for action and the opportunities in controversial issues. They see significantly greater opportunities above all in areas that are socially polarising: retirement provision, immigration, Switzerland's relations with the EU and climate change. And this is an area where women also see a great need for action.
View of opportunities in relation to problems
Those who approach problems in an opportunity-oriented manner create the conditions for overcoming them. But viewing opportunities is something that is also ridden with prerequisites. Women with a higher level of education and an above-average income are generally more likely to see great opportunities. And this figure drops significantly for women in rural areas. While women who see very great opportunities are found equally in all categories, there are fewer moderate optimists when it comes to women living in rural areas and those with less income or education. Age does not play a significant role.
Women generally prefer less exposed forms of political participation, such as deliberately buying or not buying certain products. Men, on the other hand, like to express their political views openly, be it on the Internet or directly to politicians. Women who see themselves as effective participate in a similar way to men. And this is true regardless of whether they are opportunity-oriented or not. If women are aware of and can see opportunities, they too are more likely to come out with their political views, even if they see themselves as less effective. At the same time, women who are politically involved see themselves as significantly more effective, regardless of age, education, income and place of residence. Participation is not only necessary for democratic decision-making, as it also offers citizens opportunities for development and self-fulfilment.
Recommendations for action for stronger commitment from Swiss women
Many women regard politics as a sphere over which they, personally, cannot exert any influence. However, reports on the work completed by women show that they can change existing conditions through individual action. Women themselves are advised not to make their own actions dependent on the hope of a positive outcome, but instead on their conviction that it's right to get involved.
Women want to take responsibility. They have the tools needed for effective commitment but see themselves as being less effective than men. It's not enough to simply change structures and processes: cultural acceptance, breaking down existing values and role understandings, and creatively changing the rules of the game are also very important. Women can make a contribution here by clearly communicating their skills and interests.
More women on podiums and in discussion groups not only ensures that their own ideas and interests flow into the social discourse, it also shows that their views and experiences as women are important. To ensure this has a lasting effect and is motivational, women must be listened to. However, they are all too often interrupted by men. Pioneering women should not let themselves be discouraged.
Improving the framework conditions
If more women are to be won over when it comes to political commitment, the framework conditions need to be improved. The pandemic has shown us that more flexibility is possible in the world of work. It is important for us to be open to broader possibilities and to make use of them consistently. Women can help define the world of work (Work 4.0). And they should have the confidence to help shape the political engagement of tomorrow, so that women and men have equal opportunities to shape their own lives.
Women can easily have the feeling that they don't belong in a men's world. When more women visibly show their commitment and are also encouraged to do so, then a greater number of other women will feel encouraged to do the same. It then simply becomes more natural. And it is important for women to join together, with other women and also with men. Woman alone cannot bring about sustainable change.
Prof. Dr Tina Freyburg is responsible for the "Chancenbarometer", which has been released by the LARIX Foundation. Innovation matters. You can find out more about the study on the website chancenbarometer.com. In autumn 2021 we will publish the results of this year's representative survey there.