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Switzerland: Why Swiss Women Can't Work After Winning Votes to Lead Nation

Since women won the right to vote in the canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden in 1990, females have risen to rule Switzerland's politics, making up four of the seven- member cabinet. Combining a career and motherhood in the Alpine nation presents a steeper climb.

The election in October of Simonetta Sommaruga, a trained concert pianist who is now Justice Minister, was a watershed as women for the first time held more cabinet posts than men. It came almost four decades after the first Swiss women were permitted to vote in 1971.

Voting rights for Swiss women came 54 years after females in the former Soviet Union won the right to vote. All women in the U.S. were first permitted to cast a ballot in 1920.

Energy Minister Doris Leuthard, who was Swiss President in 2010, remembers her mother's joy when female suffrage finally arrived in her country.

"She had given up her professional life when she got married," she said in an interview. "For her, political rights were a form of recognition and vital for her self-esteem."

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