In the history of Liechtenstein, three women have headed the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: 1997–2001, 2005–2009 and since 2010. Since September 2006, a woman has directed the Liechtenstein Theater am Kirchplatz for the first time. Interestingly, it was not until 1984 that women in Liechtenstein received the right to vote. Since 1992, gender equality has been anchored in the Liechtenstein Constitution. In 2014, Liechtenstein celebrated 30 years of women’s right to vote. Women’s share in politics and business is currently around 25-30%.
As a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) since 1995, Liechtenstein has adopted twelve directives on gender equality. In 1996, Liechtenstein ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Since then, vigorous measures have been introduced to implement the principle of equality. The Gender Equality Act of March 1999 was a milestone on the road to gender equality in the workplace. In 2002, the government resolved to progressively introduce gender mainstreaming and appointed a steering committee for this purpose. In 2006, Liechtenstein adapted the legislation to EU standards for gender equality in the workplace.
Since then, the government has steadily continued its efforts on behalf of de facto equality of women and men. Two measures should be emphasised in particular. First, the Inheritance Law underwent a fundamental revision in 2012 to improve the legal status of the surviving spouse or registered domestic partner. Second, the amendments to the sexual criminal law in 2011 expanded the material legal protection of victims and provided a legal basis for combating violence against women and children as well as domestic violence. The express inclusion of female genital mutilation as a crime also serves to strengthen the protection of victims of violence.
In the country’s politics and business, women remain significantly under-represented – in spite of active promotion. Three-quarters of female Liechtenstein citizens decide against careers at the present time. Although 50% of Gymnasium students are female and 42% of female graduates attend a university, traditional gender roles remain strong in Liechtenstein society. In the media, career women are still essentially overlooked. In cultural areas, however, women are strongly represented. According to the Internet platform http://www.artnet.li, 9 out of 18 artists representing the Liechtenstein Professional Association of Visual Artists (BBKL) are women. No special promotion programmes for women exist.
Developing further networking with Liechtenstein’s neighbours in Western Austria and Eastern Switzerland is a goal established by the Office of Equal Opportunity (until 2007 Office of Gender Equality). The office promotes equal and equivalent employment opportunities for everyone in Liechtenstein. Since 2001, there has been an inter-regional website for the Lake Constance area http://www.3laenderfrauen.org. Another example for cross-national cooperation is the Interreg Project “Länder-Gender” (2004-2006) for promoting gender mainstreaming in management. Since 2000, the government has awarded an Equal Opportunity Prize for the active advancement of women. Since 2008, the government of Liechtenstein has organised a Women’s Business Forum for the border triangle region of Switzerland, Austria, and Liechtenstein.