• Switzerland's news in English
Tradition still sways married Swiss women
Since 2013 Swiss women can legally keep their surname after marriage. Photo: Gary Minnaert

Tradition still sways married Swiss women

The Local · 4 Apr 2016, 12:20

Published: 04 Apr 2016 12:20 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Prior to 2013, women had to either take their husband’s surname or double their surname with his.

Since the law changed, women in Switzerland can choose to keep their own surname, or the couple can choose either the woman or the man’s surname as their married name.

Double names such as Meier Müller are no longer allowed. The hyphenated version, for example Meier-Müller, is allowed to be used in everyday life but is not considered a person’s official registered name.

According to official figures received by the Schweiz am Sonntag newspaper, 71 percent of women married in 2013 and 2014 decided to take on their husband’s surname while just 24 percent kept their own.

Only two percent of men decided to take their new wife’s surname as their married name.

Speaking to the paper, Marco Kühnis, director of the Davos civil status office, said the figures indicate a growing trend among young people towards traditional values.

“Young people today give more importance to traditions than they did ten or 20 years ago,” he said.

Fleur Weibel, a sociologist from the University of Basel, told the paper that most couples want to have the same surname to appear as a united family.

“Since the double name option is no longer available, most people opt for the man’s name. For many men it is unimaginable to take their wife’s surname. Unless, perhaps, their own name is bizarre.”

According to Weibel many women therefore face the dilemma of having to choose between keeping their identity and family cohesion.

She is among many people calling for the reintroduction of the official double name, “so that men and women can keep their identity,” she told the paper.

Swiss couples’ still-traditional stance on married names is on a par with other European countries that allow a choice of surname.

In Germany, where women may keep their surnames after marriage, just 19 percent chose to do so, according to a 2014 market research study.

Story continues below…

However laws on the subject vary wildly across Europe.

In France married women legally keep their maiden name as their official name, although they may take their husband’s name or double-barrel the two for everyday life.

And in Greece women are required to keep their own surnames for life, although they can add their husband’s (and he hers) to their own if they wish.

In the UK women can choose any number of options, including keeping their name, double-barrelling it or ‘meshing’ it with their husband’s to create an entirely new name.

For more news from Switzerland, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.ch)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Montreux throws hat in Olympic rings
Could Montreux host the 2026 Games? Photo: Ivo Scholz/Swiss Tourism

Montreux is to put itself forward as the host city for the 2026 winter Olympics as part of a potential bid by the cantons of Valais and Vaud.

Geneva car share scheme could help reduce city traffic
Catch a Car is aimed at short hops within a city. Photo: Catch a Car

Catch a Car, already in Basel, launches in Geneva next month.

Swiss women will ‘work for free’ for the rest of year
Female employees in Switzerland earn 19.3 percent less than their male colleagues. File photo: Randy Kashka

Switzerland's gender pay gap means from today, Friday October 21st, women in the country will effectively be working for free for the rest of 2016.

Swiss luxury watches stolen in Paris raid
Police outside the Girard-Perregaux watch store on Thursday. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP

The 10 Girard-Perregaux watches are worth half a million euros in total.

Brother-in-law arrested over murder of Swiss teacher
The victim worked in a school in Stabio, near the town of Mendrisio. Photo: Oliver Graf

The primary school teacher was found dead in Ticino earlier this week.

Inside Switzerland’s largest nuclear bunker – 40 years on
Designed to house 20,000 people, the bunker was built in and over two motorway tunnels. Photo: Unterirdisch Ueberleben

The Local takes a tour of the Sonnenberg bunker in Lucerne, opened 40 years ago at the height of the Cold War.

Ten Swiss ski resorts named most expensive in Europe
File photo: Renato Bagattini/Swiss Tourism

Skiers in Switzerland pay the highest prices for their ski passes of anywhere in Europe, according to research.

Eco group fights Bern over wind farm plans
There are currently more than 30 wind farms in Switzerland. Photo: Alpiq

Wind turbines are “gigantic and destructive” machines, says Paysage Libre Suisse.

Vegan wins battle to be accepted by Swiss army
Antoni Da Campo will now carry out his military service. Photo: Antoni Da Campo

A Swiss man who was told he would not be accepted for military service because of his strict veganism has finally succeeded in making the army change its mind.

Geneva terror suspects to receive compensation
File photo: Emran Kassim

The Swiss public prosecutor has dropped the case against them.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Photo: file
Some deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Photo: Royal Savoy
In pictures: Inside the latest Swiss luxury hotel
Photo: AFP
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
Photo: File
Bern argues over passports for 3rd generation foreigners
Photo: Broad Bean Media
Muslim pupils must shake hands – ‘no ifs and buts’
jobs available