The Swiss women who inspire
This content was published on March 8, 2017 - 14:34

On International Women’s Day, we asked our readers which Swiss women  past or present  they find most influential. Here are the results.

Marthe Gosteli (born 1917)...


…because she is the “Grand Old Lady” of the women’s vote.

Born to a farmer’s family in the canton of Bern, Gosteli dedicated her life to Swiss women’s suffrage. As the president of the committee of Swiss women’s organisations, she played a major role in negotiating the matter with the cabinet in 1971. 

Sophie Hunger (born 1983)...


…because she makes the beat go on.

Hunger, from Bern, has made an international name for herself as a jazz singer, musician and composer. She was the first Swiss artist to play at the legendary Glastonbury music festivalExternal link in 2010.  She also composed the film music for the Oscar-nominated Swiss film "Ma vie de Courgette". 

Carla Del Ponte (born 1947)…


…because she’s fearless.

The lawyer from Ticino and former public prosecutor worked on money-laundering cases involving the Sicilian mafia. She then went on to become the chief prosecutor of two UN international criminal law tribunals, on former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Today, she is retired but continues to work as an investigator on the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria. 

Annemarie Schwarzenbach (1908 – 1942)... 


…because she saw the world.

Born to a privileged family in Zurich, Schwarzenbach was an author, journalist and photographer who reported from travels to Persia, Afghanistan and the United States. Her engagement with German anti-fascists lead to a troubled relationship with her far-right-leaning family. She had a morphine addiction and died young following a bicycle accident.

Martina Hingis (born 1980)…


…because she’s the comeback queen.

Readers from Brazil and China especially see the professional tennis player as a true Swiss heroine. She had to retire twice due to injuries but made a comeback each time. She has five singles, twelve doubles and five mixed doubles Grand Slam titles.

Iris von Roten (1917 – 1990)…


…because she was ahead of her time.

The young lawyer from Basel and her husband worked as partners in their joint law firm. In 1959, von Roten wrote a scandalous book: In “Frauen im Laufgitter”, or "Women in the Playpen", she discussed issues from political rights to female sexuality. The feminist publication caused a scandal, and von Roten was publicly insulted. She took her own life in 1990. 

And many more…

Apart from naming notable women from Swiss history and public life, many of our readers mentioned women from their personal sphere as most inspirational to them: mothers, partners, friends. Here’s to them!

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