Women's strike of 14 June 2019: one year later


Institutional Communication Service

13 June 2020

It's been a year since a large group "in purple" addressed important gender issues at USI and then demonstrated in Bellinzona. We retraced that day and took stock of the situation with Daniela Mondini, USI Pro-Rector for Equal Opportunities.

"I remember the day of 14 June as a festive moment of protest during which the park around USI turned purple. The day was marked by intense opportunities for exchange and thoughts were shared with colleagues and staff, post docs, PhD students and students" - recalls Daniela Mondini.

The activities that animated the campus in those days were coordinated by a group spontaneously formed at USI, which, with the support of the Equal Opportunities Service, organised various initiatives:

  • The performance "Una Emilie Kempin-Spyri, tutte Emilie", directed by Sara Flaadt Camponovo, was held in the foyer of the Aula Magna on the eve of the strike, on 13 June, 2019. The show, which narrates the life of the first Swiss jurist, was promoted by the Institute of Law and the Equal Opportunities Service, with the contribution of the Swiss Jurists' Association, and was very well acclaimed by the public and sold out.
  • In the days before 14 June 2019, a number of Equality Boxes were placed on the campuses of Lugano, Mendrisio and Bellinzona, to invite members of the USI community to leave thoughts, comments, and testimonies, even anonymous ones, on the issues raised by the strike. A selection of messages was then publicly displayed at the equality stand "Stand (for) Equality" on the day of the strike. All messages were collected and stored anonymously and offered valuable insights for subsequent activities promoted by the Equal Opportunities Service.
  • On the day of the strike, 14 June 2019, a group of people made up of faculty members, administrative staff and students set up an equality stand called Stand (for) Equality on the lawn in front of the main entrance to the West Campus, a space for information, recreation and discussion on the issues at the centre of the event. In the morning, the group took a symbolic walk along the campus perimeter, marked by the reading of some significant dates in the history of women in Switzerland, and in the afternoon a rally took place in Bellinzona.

These different activities - illustrated in the picture gallery - animated a lively debate. Today we can ask ourselves: what has changed one year later? "Progress is not easily measured over the course of a year" - points out the Pro-rector - "but surely sensitivity has grown, visibility has increased and so has the desire to change". There have been some specific positive facts, for example the awarding of the Doctorate Honoris Causa to Professor Linda Argote (University of Carnegie Mellon, USA) and the Best Teaching Award to Suzanne Suggs, Professor of Social Marketing in the Faculty of Communication, Culture and Society at USI Dies academicus 2020.

In addition, the national campaign 100 women and thousands more took place, with as many as five representatives from USI. The activities - unfortunately slowed down this spring by the consequences of COVID-19 - will resume in the autumn semester, starting with the launch of the 100 Donne in Ticino campaign. The inaugural event "Shapes, images and matter" will be held on 6 October on Mendrisio campus. The debate among professionals with outstanding backgrounds, active in the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland, will focus on the value that gender diversity brings to the fields of architecture, art and engineering and why equality still remains a difficult goal to achieve.

It is clear that there is still much to be done in the future: "Among USI faculty members, the percentage of female full professors has slightly increased to 17%, but continues to be lower than the average for Swiss universities" - says Pro-rector Mondini - "Therefore, working on female recruitment among professors remains a priority, also via a direct call. It is a lengthy process, and we will progressively see its outcome".

Some projects currently underway - such as the revision of the Procedural Directives within the Equal Opportunities Delegation or the gender budget  project - will offer new tools to make USI a place of inclusion and reconciliation, also thanks to the constant work of the Equal Opportunities Service.