Doyenne of women’s rights in Switzerland dies

Marthe Gosteli in an archive picture from 1991 Keystone

Marthe Gosteli, a pioneer of women’s suffrage in Switzerland, has died at the age of 99.

This content was published on April 7, 2017 - 21:05

The Gosteli Foundation said on Friday the doyenne of the Swiss women’s rights had been in medical care following a fall.

Born in 1917 on her parent’s farm outside the Swiss capital, Bern, she worked in the army press and radio department and later for the United States embassy’s information department in Bern.

From the mid-1960s she used her knowledge to promote the women’s movement and held high positions in several Swiss women’s organisations.

She also presided over the consortium of Swiss Women’s Associations for the Political Rights of Women ahead of a nationwide ballot in 1971 finally giving Swiss women the right to vote.


Gosteli founded the Archive on the History of Women in Switzerland and in 1982, the Gosteli Foundation.

“I was also called a suffragette. In my life I have experienced everything – from the highest honours ot the nastiest slander,” she told in 2011.

Gosteli received numerous awards, including an honorary doctor of Bern University and a human rights prize.

In a poll last month on occasion of International Women’s Day, Gosteli was chosen as one of the most influential Swiss women.

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