First woman and lesbian mayor of Zürich: Corine Mauch

Today, the world is going through constant changes and it is important to acknowledge and accept this pace. However, politics is not the sphere which is prone to extreme changes in a short period of time, primarily because it is based on beliefs that have been present for a long time. Nonetheless, small steps usually lead to positive changes. This can be seen through the example of the city of Zürich and its first woman lesbian mayor Corine Mauch.

Mayor Mauch was born in Iowa, United States. At the time, her father was completing his doctorate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was an ETH structural engineer, which greatly affected Corine’s later academic and professional life. When she was at a young age, the Mauch family moved to the village of Oberlunkhofen, canton of Aargau, with about 500 residents at the time.

At an early age she developed a unique interest in nature and environment. Mayor Mauch recalls: “I knew very early on that I wanted to work with nature and the environment. If I had to choose now, I would probably study environmental sciences.”

This passion later developed some political aspects as well, since she was growing up at the time of big climate change processes. Primary movements that inspired her were anti-nuclear protests of the 1970s, the great push for twelve car-free Sundays and the “Albatross” initiative. Mayor Mauch was active in all those changes, even though she was not still eligible to vote.

Furthermore, she was active during the feminist rise in the Switzerland. Many cantons did not allow women to vote until 1979, when feminists finally achieved their goal and secured the right for women to vote. Corine Mauch was greatly involved in this whole endeavor, since her mother was the first female representative of Aargau canton.

After participating in these enormous changes to the Swiss political system, Corine Mauch started her further academic development at ETH at the agricultural economic studies department. There, she was one of the few women interested in this field of economics. Her class was quite diverse, since there were students from both French and Italian speaking cantons, as well as different family backgrounds.

As part of her studies, she had to spend about six months on a farm in Bernese Oberland where she further developed her passion about nature and environment, but also connected more with hardworking and simple people and their lives.

As she finished her studies, Corine’s father Samuel Mauch started an agency for scientific policy called “Infras”, one of the first in Switzerland, which later greatly helped Corine develop further in her academic life.

After her studies at ETH, she got an internship in Nepal. The project involved work on irrigation networks and infrastructure, which was a unique experience for Corine Mauch.

When she got back to Switzerland, she became involved with the Berne Declaration development organization. She got to work with various politicians and federal agencies on environmental issues. She was an advisor to many of them, but her most notable accomplishment was implementation of the waste and recycling system. 

Mayor Mauch was one of leading experts during this project and when it was finished, she became the first Uster environmental commissioner. As this position was on federal level, she also got to evaluate further business innovations for the Swiss Parliamentary Services.

In 1999, Corine Mauch was elected as first woman for the City Council of Zürich. She started working on various urbanization projects, since she thought it was a way forward for the city.

Mayor Corine Mauch stated: “Zürich is home for the people from 170 countries. They all live in peace and harmony, without ghettos or parallel societies”.

As part of her urbanization strategy, mayor Corine Mauch implemented three position plans. These plans revolve around different aspects of the city and its development.

First plan is “Zürich is the Future”. It involves various projects that aim at reducing pollution by improving public transport, foot and bicycle paths. It also involves a project for 2,600 urban apartments.

Second plan is “Zürich is for everyone”. This plan revolves around social solidarity and tolerance. The main focus of this plan is to incorporate as many groups as possible into the city and, if possible, engage them in participating in the development of Zürich. There are various initiatives for incorporation of foreigners that reside in the city into the voting system, since they represent a sizable part of the population. In addition to that, there are plans for expanding their rights in regards to social security and services.

Third and final part of Mayor Mauch’s strategy for the city is “Zürich makes history”. As one of the most developed cities in the world, a leader in innovation and introduction of new things, mayor Corine Mauch wants to continue this tradition. There are many projects that are based on innovative housing and climate policies and promotion of start-ups as one of the most important strategies for this city.

Finally, there is an important part that should be pointed out: gender parity that is achieved in the city. Recently implemented standard for the city of Zürich states that previously underrepresented gender in every department will now be encouraged to meet the gap of 30%. This means that in every government-run organization there should be at least 30% women (or men, if the situation is different). This sparked a rise of women in the top management sector. In April 2018, the City Council of Zürich signed the first “trans welcome initiative”. This initiative is still active and boasts excellent results.

Mayor Corine Mauch is a prime example of women empowerment. Throughout her entire life, she fought for her rights. She is a true inspiration for all young women and is looked upon as a unique role model. (photo credit: Wikipedia)