Accessibility in Switzerland
Switzerland is highly accessible to those living with disability or impairment. Almost three-quarters of the 1.8 million people registered disabled in the country are in employment, and their lifestyles and livelihoods are protected by law.
The Federal Bureau for the Equality of People with Disabilities has strong powers at government level, while organisations such as Inclusion Handicap and the member association Procap coordinate services in the community, from transport advice to talent sourcing.
Zurich, Geneva and Basel airports are modern and all designed with barrier-free travel in mind. Wheelchair users can be assisted from baggage reclaim through designated customs control and onward travel by train, bus or taxi. Disabled toilets use the Euro Key system.
Most taxis can accommodate a folding wheelchair in the boot, and specialist services have ramps or room for a fixed or powered mobility aid onboard. In Zurich, Behinderten Transport Zürich is a popular choice – while Procap has links to many reputable private hire services across the country. Fares are regulated and metered, and app-based services including Uber and Vertt are popular.
Most buses are low-floor models with easy access for wheelchair users. In smaller towns, some local PostBus services require the driver to install a ramp. Staff are well-trained and courteous.
Lausanne is the only city with a metro system, but Zurich, Geneva, Basel, Bern and Neuchâtel have highly efficient, clean and safe urban commuter and light rail networks. The popular commuter rail service is called S-Bahn providing regular, cost-effective cross-city travel.
All major international car rental franchises operate in Switzerland. Europcar offers a modern fleet of VW Caddy Maxis which have been converted to meet the needs of disabled people and their companions. Those who wish to hire a car must be 20 years or older and have held a licence for more than 12 months.
LGBTQ+ in Switzerland
The Swiss Constitution guarantees equal treatment before the law, specifying ‘way of life’ as one of the many criteria protected against discrimination. Swiss law also has strong principles of freedom of association and, as such, has only limited provisions to outlaw discrimination in the private sector or between private individuals. Legislation providing for same-sex marriage and same-sex adoption came into force in 2022.
The largest local LGBTQ+ rights advocacy groups in Switzerland are Lesbenorganisation Schweiz for lesbian rights, Pink Cross for LGBT rights and Transgender Network Switzerland. Homophobic attitudes are rare, and the country is open, welcoming, and tolerant of all orientations.
Gender equality in Switzerland
Despite women only gaining the right to vote some 50 years ago, Switzerland enjoys exceptional levels of gender equality. A pay and opportunity gap exists but has been narrowing progressively, making the country the 10th best in the World Economic Forum’s global ranking.
Women in leadership in Switzerland
Women are politically empowered in Switzerland, holding over 40 percent of the seats in the country’s two houses of parliament. In 2019, the Swiss government approved a proposal calling for better representation of women at the top of large, publicly traded companies. Guidelines state at least 30 percent of positions on the boards of directors and 20 percent in executive boards over the next five and 10 years respectively should be held by women. In mid-level management, women and men are equally represented.
Mental health in Switzerland
Mental health support in Switzerland is accessible and affordable thanks to a comprehensive health care system. Universal health insurance is mandatory, even for foreign citizens living in the country. Patients are only liable for a 10 percent co-payment for outpatient services, up to a specified maximum amount per year. This includes services like psychotherapy, which requires a simple doctor referral.
Unconscious bias in Switzerland
Unconscious bias refers to the prejudices a person absorbs when living in an unequal society. Preconceptions around gender, age and ethnicity inhibit effective hiring, limit development and lowers staff morale. Some international organisations use training to promote a greater understanding of different national customs, identities and ways of working. This can sometimes be at odds with Swiss values such as punctuality, frugality, responsibility and tolerance.
Diversification of the workforce in Switzerland
Although the modern state of Switzerland originated in 1848, it is not a nation-state, and the Swiss are not a single ethnic group, but rather are a confederacy or ‘nation of will’. It’s divided into four major linguistic groups: German, French, Italian, and Romansh and is a religiously diverse place. Over 2 million foreign nationals also live in Switzerland, almost a quarter of the permanent population – making it the world’s 3rd most popular place for expats, after Dubai and Singapore.
Safety in Switzerland
Switzerland is one of the safest countries in the world to live and work in. It enjoys low rates of crime, particularly violent offences. The Swiss police are visible and efficient, and penalties – from traffic violations to drug use – can be substantial compared to many neighbouring countries.
Women’s safety in Switzerland
Overall, Switzerland is a very safe place for solo female travellers and expat workers. Harassment and sexual violence are low and uncommon. As is the case worldwide, it pays to use common sense when out in city centres late at night and to be mindful of pickpockets or petty criminals near tourist sites.
Calendar initiatives in Switzerland
4th February – World Cancer Day
8th March – International Women’s Day
7th April – World Health Day
Third Thursday of May – Global Accessibility Awareness Day
June – Pink Ribbon Walk, Zurich
10th September – World Suicide Prevention Day
10th October –World Mental Health Day
25th November – International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
1st December – World AIDS Day