Ruth Dreifuss has been a hugely significant figure in the political life of her native country, Switzerland and a global voice for feminism, equality and woman’s rights. Born in St Gall, she studied economics at degree level in Geneva, specialising in econometrics. Her early career was varied, though consistent with her burgeoning socially democratic political views. One of the most formative roles in that respect was the nine years she spent with the Swiss Agency for Development and Humanitarian Aid (Federal Department of Foreign Affairs). Following that role, in 1981 by becoming Secretary of the Swiss Labour Union Federation.