Michela Bovolenta


Secretary of the Swiss public services union, Lausanne

Situation professionnelle en 2019

"Rather than complaining about it, I prefer to get involved in order to change things."

My career path

I’m responsible for women’s rights, and in particular equality, maternity-related issues and problems of sexual harassment. I’m also in charge of the childcare policy, the migration policy and the union’s retired members.

I’m passionate about being able to work with others to change things. I like seeing people rallying to a cause and to protect their rights. The capitalist system exploits the environment and people – especially women, who take on two thirds of the household tasks on top of everything else.

Rather than complaining about it, I prefer to get involved in order to change things. If our mothers and grandmothers hadn’t fought, then I wouldn’t be a union secretary today ! Although things have improved, there’s still much more to be done.

My career path. I started out in a section within the union when I was young, with a short-term contract that could only be renewed once. And things went from there. In 2003, I took on the position of central secretary. I was put in charge of women’s rights after a group of female union members pushed to make these rights a priority. I was supported by union members, including both women working in various regions and men, like the former union president Eric Decarro.

A downside or obstacle ? The number of female union secretaries has increased considerably since I first started out. This is thanks to the measures put in place, like quotas in all union bodies. But the role of union secretary is a demanding one, both in terms of the time commitment and the battles you have to fight. Going out and confronting employers or taking part in the political debate can be hard, even in the public sector. And
although there are some victories, there are unfortunately many defeats as well. It takes up quite a lot of energy.

I’m proud that I helped to bring in federal maternity leave in Switzerland. That was in 2005, after a campaign that ran from 1993 to 2004. More recently, I’ve campaigned against raising the retirement age for women. Against the odds, we won the vote. The majority of women voted against working for one more year after a lifetime of inequality, discrimination, unemployment and sexism.

The Proust Questionnaire

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Au-delà de votre profession

La politique, l’histoire des femmes et les mouvements sociaux.

Des personnes qui vous inspirent

Rosa Luxembourg et Gandhi.

Un livre & un film

Se questo è un uomo (Primo Levi) et je ne suis pas très film, mais L’ordre divin (Petra Volpe) m’a beaucoup plu.

Un modèle

Des militantes, pas connues, qui ont œuvré, avec patience et détermination, pour nos droits.

Un objet

Le mégaphone

Une couleur

Le fuchsia

Un rêve

Une grève des femmes le 14 juin 2019.