Feminist Strike

On paper, equality has been implemented for quite a while. In reality, however, we are still miles away from it.

Feminist Strike 2024

The Feminist University Collective Bern is organizing a program in front of the main building of the University of Bern on 14 June 2024 to mark the Feminist Strike.

It will be loud, colorful and exciting - be there!

What you can expect:

At 10:30 we start with a brunch: free coffee and croissants. inscription here.

Between 11:00-18:00 you can make buttons and posters, print T-shirts (bring one) and bags (we have some for you). There will also be tattoo stands, nail studios and dental jewelry, a book stand and various information stands from students and university staff.

Between 13:30-18:000 we will be playing music on a stage, poetry slam and various speakers will be performing. We will present our demands for a university for all and then walk together to Schützenmatte.

You want to participate in the organization?

Demands for the feminist strike

The following demands were compiled by the Feminist University Collective Bern (FHB), which was founded in preparation for the Feminist Strike 2024. The collective, consisting of students from Bern University of Applied Sciences and the University of Bern, addresses the demands to the universities of the Canton of Bern. The demands are formulated as objectives.

In a nutshell - We demand:

  1. Recognition of intersectionality
  2. Compatibility
  3. Equal opportunities and accessibility
  4. Universities free from harassment and discrimination
  5. Equality
  6. Language free from discrimination

In more detail:

We demand recognition of intersectionality:

  •  Universities recognise that people can be affected by different categories of discrimination at the same time.
  • Universities treat all people with respect and appreciation.
  • Universities take intersectional principles into account in teaching, research, academic communication and policy advice. 

We demand compatibility at universities:

  • Universities create comprehensive measures and inclusive framework conditions for the compatibility of studies, care work, paid work and volunteer work, especially during studies. 

We demand equal opportunities and accessibility at universities:

  • There is access, equal opportunities and freedom from discrimination at universities for people without an academic background, for racialised people, people with migration experience, religious minorities, queer people as well as people with few financial resources, people with mental or physical impairments and neurodivergent people.
  • Universities have an inclusive infrastructure for queer people, people with disabilities, religious minorities and other marginalised groups.

We demand universities free from harassment and discrimination:

  • Independent and low-threshold contact points exist for reporting harassment and discrimination.
  • Universities take comprehensive measures (including awareness-raising measures) for a university free of ableism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, queer hostility, racism, sexism, sexualised violence and all other forms of discrimination.
  • The universities provide comprehensive information about the available contact and reporting centres.

We demand equality at universities:

  • Universities take measures to promote TINFA* persons in academia and a TINFA* quota of 50% for professorships and lecturerships.
  • Universities shall ensure that TINFA* persons are adequately represented in management and other leadership positions.
  • Universities are actively committed to reducing horizontal segregation, for example by making the STEM field more attractive to TINFA* persons.
  • Universities pay equal pay for equal work and are transparent about pay and employment conditions.
  • Universities allow for uncomplicated changes of gender-entry and name.

We demand non-discriminatory language at universities:

  • Universities use consistently gender-equitable, anti-racist, non-ableist language.

Feminist strike 2019

Together for gender equality!
Feminist Strike of the Universities of Bern
Feminist Strike of the Universities of Bern

Women are affected by massive structural injustices, especially in the workplace. It is not rare that women earn less than their male colleagues for the same work and are less likely to be considered for promotions. In addition, large structural differences also persist: While 59% of students were female in 2022, the proportion of women in full and associate professorships is only 30%.

With the Womentoring programme, the SUB is trying to counteract this problem of vertical segregation.

Furthermore, the SUB is an advocate of equal rights for all genders, the compatibility of studies and family, unrestricted access to the university for people with disabilities and, last but not least, equal treatment of international students.

Do you also want to get involved in promoting equality and equal opportunities at the University of Bern? Come and help us to shape the gender equality policy at the University of Bern and join the Gender Equality Working Group of the SUB. If you would like to join or receive more information about the working group, please send us an email.

You can read our positions on equality and sexism in the following position papers:

Demands of the feminist strike 2019

1. We demand that measures are taken to promote women* in academia and that a quota of 50% of professorships and lectureships are held by women*.

The underrepresentation of women* in research and teaching has implications for the production and transmission of knowledge. Women* and men should do research and teach in equal proportions.

2. We demand an adequate representation of women* in the university management and in other leadership positions.

Only 2 out of 6 people in the university management and 2 out of 8 of the deans are female*. We demand a fair distribution of power through adequate gender representation in leadership positions.

3. We demand comprehensive measures to create family-friendly conditions in studies in order to ensure a better compatibility of studies, work and family.

The compatibility of studies, work and family is essential for equal opportunities. Especially the institutes and faculties have a responsibility to ensure that Article 16 of the Equal Opportunities Regulations is implemented. For students with care obligations and pregnant women*, exceptions to compulsory attendance and examinations should be guaranteed.

4. We demand a more active commitment of the University of Bern, its faculties and institutes to take responsibility to reduce horizontal segregation in cooperation with different actors through awareness raising and concrete projects.

Horizontal segregation has an influence on individual decisions of (future) students and perpetuates social structures that are responsible for gender-specific disadvantage and unequal treatment.

5. We call for awareness-raising measures to ensure a university free from sexual harassment.

Every tenth student has already been affected by sexual harassment and 14.5% of employees have experienced verbal or physical harassment at the University of Bern. Each of these incidents is one too many!

6. We demand an independent and easily accessible body for reporting sexism and sexual harassment at the university.

The barriers to reporting sexism and sexual harassment are too high. The SUB survey shows that only one in twenty students (5%) who have already been discriminated against reported the incident of discrimination to a contact point at the University of Bern. This must change, which is why we demand low-threshold access to counselling and support services.

7. We demand the reorganisation of the academic sector according to structures that are not discriminatory.

Structural sexism at universities means that women* are discriminated, disadvantaged and devalued because of their gender by the organisational structures according to which the university functions.

8. We demand a consistent gender-neutral language at the University of Bern.

Women*, trans and non-binary persons should no longer just be "thought of" but explicitly reflected in the language. We demand that gender-neutral language is used in all faculties and institutes. Gender-neutral writing and speaking should be part of the curriculum and standard for academic work.

9. We demand an acknowledging and appreciative approach to non-binary people and people in transition, which is also reflected in university structures. 

The gender reference should be left out or adapted in such a way that it also includes non-binary genders. 

10. We demand the recognition of the diversity of sexual orientations in research and teaching. 

Our society and also the University of Bern is shaped by heteronormative ideas. People with a different sexual orientation are discriminated by prevailing normative ideas. 

The feminist strike 2019 is over - the fight for equality goes on!

On the 14th of June 2019, hundreds of thousands of people marched for more equality and equal opportunities. The SUB also went on strike - together with around 2000 members of the University of Bern on the Grosse Schanze. We were many, we were colourful, we were loud!

On the 14th of June 2019, 2000 women* protested against sexism, sexual harassment, unequal treatment, discrimination and ignorance regarding gender-appropriate language, non-binary gender identity and the diversity of sexual orientation at the University of Bern. If the feminist strike has shown one thing, it is that the need for action in this area is recognised and demanded.

The feminist strike was a success, but the goal of achieving equality is still a long way off. We are calling on the university management to adopt effective measures in the area of equality and have handed over a petition with the 10 demands of the feminist strike to the university management in October 2019. To date, two years after the feminist strike, we have not received a concrete statement from the university management on what will happen with our demands. This is despite the fact that the demands have by no means lost their relevance - as the Corona crisis in particular made clear that existing injustices have been intensified.

The SUB will continue to resolutely advocate for more equality and equal opportunities at the University of Bern with various equality policies and activities!

Review of the Feminist Strike 2019

Feminist Week

The SUB analyses what has happened since the Feminist Strike in 2019 and looks at what still needs to be done in the future in the area of gender equality.

The SUB took the one-year anniversary of the feminist strike as an opportunity to pick up the discussion on gender equality issues and raise awareness for ongoing injustices in the university / academic context. During the week of the 15th-19th of June 2020, Natascha Flückiger, SUB's board member for Equality, spoke to various women* about equality at the University of Bern.

Among the interviewees were:

  • Valentina Achermann, former SUB board member for Equality
  • Francesca Falk, lecturer in migration history
  • Claudia Willen and Sabine Höfler from the Office for Gender Equality (AfG)
  • Lea Schlenker from the Swiss Student Union (VSS)
  • BIPoC Group Decolonising Universities

P.S.: Are you BIPoC, interested in decolonising education and want to get involved with this university group? You can get in touch here (you don't have to be at the university): 

Feminist Week: BIPoC Group Decolonising Universities
Feminist Week: Talk with Lea Schlenker from the VSS
Feminist Week: Talk with Claudia Willen and Sabine Höfler from the AfG
Feminist Week: Talk with Francesca Falk
Feminist Week: Talk with Valentina Achermann

SUB received Prix Lux Award

In 2019, the SUB was awarded the "Prix Lux" for its commitment in the field of gender equality.

In November 2019, Prof. Dr. Christian Leumann awarded the SUB with the " Prix Lux" for our commitment in the field of gender equality. We are very pleased about the award and about the fact that the SUB's commitment is being honoured. For almost fifty years now, the SUB has been dealing with the issue of gender equality. Especially in the last twenty years, the SUB has tried to stimulate the discussion on gender equality issues with various gender equality measurements and activities. And yet: the goal of achieving equality at the University of Bern is still far from being met. We will continue to work for this with determination and regularly remind the university of its exemplary role!

Prix Lux
Prix Lux
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