Women of Switzerland

Ruth Dreifuss

Diplomat, *1940

Ruth Dreifuss served as President of the Swiss Confederation in 1999, the first woman to hold that office. She has worked successively as a teaching assistant, journalist, scientific collaborator in the field of development cooperation and humanitarian aid at the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, and Secretary of the Swiss Trade Union Federation. In 1993 she was elected Federal Councillor and was head of the Federal Department of Home Affairs in Switzerland from 1993 to 2002 where she was responsible for public health, social insurance, scientific research, higher education, gender equality, environment and culture. Following her retirement from politics she became chancellor of the University for Peace in Costa Rica, contributed to the reform of the University of Geneva and served as President of the World Commission on Drug Policy from 2016 to 2020, for which she was awarded the Stockholm Prize for Criminology in 2019. Ruth Dreifuss is still an active member of the International Commission against the Death Penalty and is currently their Vice-President.

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Ruth Dreifuss