Switzerland – Gender and Women’s Rights

2 National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights 2020-23

2.1 Pillar 1: state duty to protect


2.1.3 The State-business nexus

Guiding Principles 4 to 5

Measure 11: Human rights due diligence by public-private development partnerships

As laid down in the Code of Conduct for Contractual Partners of the FDFA [Federal Department of Foreign Affairs], respect for human rights and gender equality are two of the values which should be promoted in the interests of Switzerland. All individuals, companies or other entities that work with the FDFA are required to contribute to the promotion of these values and to act in accordance with them, and with the legal order.


2.2.1 Foundational principles

Guiding Principles 11 to 15

The responsibility of business enterprises to respect human rights refers to internationally recognised human rights. … Depending on the circumstances, business enterprises must also observe additional standards concerning particularly vulnerable population groups, including agreements protecting … women …

2.2.2 Operational principles: human rights due diligence

Measure 21: Support for UN bodies in charge of promoting the UN Guiding Principles

The federal government will continue to lend political and financial support to the UN Working Group, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the annual UN Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva. It will work with these bodies on several projects that:

– take account of gender issues in the implementation of UN Guiding Principles;

Measure 28: Promotion of gender equality

The Federal Council recognises the importance of addressing the disproportionate impact that business activities can have on women and girls.

The private sector is fundamental to advancing gender equality and women’s rights. In December 2018, parliament passed an amendment to the Gender Equality Act which adds pay equity to companies’ mandatory due diligence obligations. The revised legislation also requires public and private sector employers with at least 100 employees to conduct regular equal pay analyses. This new requirement will take effect on 1 July 2020. An independent body reviews the findings and the employer must inform the workforce of its conclusions. Companies which are found to have an equal pay policy are exempt from further assessment. The new provisions, which will take effect on 1 July 2020 for a period of 12 years, will be evaluated nine years after they come into force.

The federal government provides a free equal pay self-test tool, Logib, which allows companies with fewer than 50 employees to check for instances of wage inequality in their workforce.

Objective Indicator Responsibility
Achieve equal pay for men and women. Number of companies using the Logib tool.

Example of a public sector employer publishing detailed findings from its equal pay analysis as well as the conclusions of the independent auditor.

Example of a listed company publishing detailed results of its equal pay analysis in their annual report.

FOGE [Federal Office for Gender Equality]


2.3.2 Operational principles: state judicial mechanisms

Guiding Principle 26

Domestic judicial mechanisms (the courts) may be used to determine matters involving business-related human rights abuses. The federal government intends to ensure the effectiveness of these mechanisms by devising measures to reduce legal, practical and other hurdles that could prevent those affected from gaining access to remedy. These measures should pay particular attention to the additional obstacles that women may face.

Measure 32: Rule of law and access to justice in host states

The federal government contributes to the strengthening of the rule of law and the promotion of human rights in host States. It engages in political dialogue and international development cooperation programmes in the field of good governance and access to justice. The federal government aims to ensure that communities have access to a fair, transparent and functioning judicial system where they can bring claims and hold the relevant authorities to account. Within this framework, particular attention is given to women and the additional obstacles they can face with regard to access to justice in general and, more specifically, in relation to business-related human rights abuses.

Objective Indicator Responsibility
Help improve access to justice in host States. Example of measures by public sector and civil society actors to improve access to judicial proceedings or alternative conciliation procedures and access for specific sections of the population, such as women and disadvantaged groups (source: report on development cooperation programmes to promote good governance and access to justice). FDFA [Federal Department of Foreign Affairs],