Ten days after the official start of the Frauen*Volksbegehren – the petition for a referendum on women’s rights – organizers reported breaking the required 100,000 signature mark. Amazing? Yes. An easy win? No.

The road to victory was paved with technical difficulties, both for Handysignatur (mobile phone) voters and those who flocked to the Magistrat. A technical overload crashed the system and many voters were sent home before they had been able to sign. True to form, Austrians promptly voiced their annoyance to the Interior Ministry – all the lost online votes, the wasted effort of going to the Magistrat and most importantly, the audacity of the Interior Ministry to be unprepared for the masses. It was upsetting enough that the people had to deal with “Server down” announcements or had to be sent home without signing. What was peculiar, though, was that the technical issues, and even the complaints themselves, kept on casting a cloud over the success of the petition. Even with all the challenges, there are more than 100,000 signatures already, and they’re still counting. It’s already clear the petition will go to the Nationalrat (National Assembly).

Now it’s time to stop complaining and focus on the real work ahead. So much desire for progress took the administration off guard? Well, maybe they learned something. So let’s not get distracted by a “Server down” announcement. Voters who signed don’t want the hard work of our mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers who fought for equality and women’s rights to have been in vain. If anything, the desire for change is more present than ever. So, let’s get down to business.

The Frauen*Volksbegehren is open until March 12 (Austrian citizens only). For more information (German only): frauenvolksbegehren.at

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