Ruth Dreifuss 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. She implemented new policy in the fields of drug addiction and prevention of HIV and AIDS, and a new law on health insurance, guaranteeing universal coverage for the Swiss population.
In 1999, she served as president of the Swiss Confederation. Dreifuss was secretary of the Swiss Labor Union Federation from 1981 to 1993, with responsibility for sectors including social insurance, labor law, and gender equality. She is currently a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy and the International Commission against the Death Penalty. Dreifuss received an MA in economics with a special focus on econometrics from the University of Geneva.