Melitta Marxer

  • Liechtenstein
  • Women’s Rights

Melitta Marxer was an activist and suffragist who played a crucial role in women gaining the right to vote in Liechtenstein, making it the last European country to do so.

The mother of three daughters, Marxer began her involvement in women’s rights to provide a better life for her children. During the 1960’s she joined a successful effort that would allow for Liechtensteiner girls to attend high school. After this victory, Marxer and other feminists turned their focus to granting women the right to vote but were immediately met with resistance. Following multiple failed referendums, Marxer and her colleagues formed the activist group Aktion Dornröschen which means “thorny rose” and was a play on words for the German name of the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty. The group produced informative literature, held lectures, and lobbied the government to enact the change. 


After years of opposition within Liechtenstein, Marxer and her fellow Aktion Dornröschen activists began a campaign across Europe to spread awareness of their cause, eventually appealing to the Council of Europe in 1983. With international attention on Liechtenstein’s antiquated laws a new referendum was introduced and on July 2, 1984, male voters voted in favor of women’s suffrage. Melitta and the story of the Liechtensteiner suffragist movement was the subject of a Swiss documentary titled Die andere Hälfte (The Other Half) released in 2002. Marxer passed in 2015 at the age of 91.



Special thanks to Veronika Marxer for contributing and helping us with our Liechtenstein’s peace post. Photo credit for the images of Melitta Marxer: Die Andere Hälfte. Der Weg zum Frauenstimmrecht in Liechtenstein, a film by Isolde Marxer, 2002 and the Liechtensteinisches Frauenarchiv.

Liechtenstein

  • Population
    37,340
  • Capital
    Vaduz & Schaan
  • GDP (PPP)
    $98,432
  • January 23, 1719
  • Total Area
    160 km2 (219th)
  • Demonym
    Liechtensteiner
  • Government
    Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy

Artwork

Marxer is illustrated in a composition of a single rose. The thorny stem defines the contour of her face and the red petals become her auburn hair. This particular flower symbolizes her co-founded feminist group Aktion Dornröschen, which is translated as thorny rose.

  • Illustration by
    Johnny Selman