Design: Daniel Steffen, Bern. © Swiss Post Ltd

A pioneer through and through

In 1845, in Bözen, Canton Aargau, an inquisitive, impetuous girl was born: Marie Vögtlin. As a priest’s daughter, she enjoyed the privilege of an education, but suffered under the conventions of the time – and rebelled.
She managed to secure a place at Zurich University to study medicine, the first Swiss female ever to do so, and gained a PhD. In Leipzig and Dresden she became the first woman in Europe to qualify as a consultant in obstetrics and gynaecological diseases and was the first female Swiss doctor to open her own practice.
She married Prof. Albert Heim and – at what was then the ripe old age of 36 – gave birth to the first of three children. Despite having a family, she continued to work throughout her life.
In public, Marie Heim-Vögtlin was a particularly fervent champion of women’s education and women’s suffrage. She was the co-founder of the Zurich School of Nursing, Switzerland’s first hospital for women to be run by women. There was only one thing that Dr. med. Marie Heim-
Vögtlin did not achieve before her death on 7 November 1916: the admission of female doctors onto advanced training programmes for doctors. It was for that very purpose that, in 1921, the Verband Schweizer Ärztinnen – Association of Swiss Female Doctors, now called mws medical women switzerland – was founded.

lic. iur. Judith Naef, Lawyer, CEO and Association Counsel at mws