Marianne Hainisch

* 25.03.1839 (Baden near Vienna) 05.05.1936 (Vienna) Austria
Fields of activity: women's rights activist
Author: Elfriede Marek

Unless Vienna Foto Hainisch

She was one of the leading fighters for the equal rights of women in Austria. She dared – born within the society of the Biedermeierage, inspite lot of obstacles to successfully break through the limits for women.

As a daughter of an industrial family- her father Josef Perger was a merchant and owner of a factory – Marianne and her four brothers and sisters spent a watched over childhood. For the reason of a great difference of age she participated early in the care and upbringing of the younger. She had a Swiss private tutor, an English governess and a French nursery school teacher. The family moved to Vienna for the purpose of the childrens´s schooling. Marianne became an external pupil at the institute „Fröhlich“. According to Marianne the institut´s headmistress, Betty Fröhlich had a firmly influence on her. In her biographical scenes she described her as a gifted idealist, moral philosopher and a born teacher with a most beneficiant influence on her pupils.

1855 Marianne left the institute and 2 years later she married Michael Hainisch, co-owner of a spinning mill near the Semmering. As a  woman oft he elevated middle classes she totally devoted herself after the marriage in her role as a wife and mother of a daughter and a son.

1860 a turning point evolved in her life. The secession war in the United States led to a stop of the import of cotton following to the decline of the textile industry accompanied with the impoverishment oft he workmen and the industrialists. Also the family Hainisch became from prosperous then impoverished people; her husband had to sell the factory, however could work as a managing director. Marianne recognized that women without training which had been barred to them only had the possibility to get subordinate and lowpaid jobs. So she devoted all her energy to achieve the equal rights for women especially in respect of training and education.

1870 she officially appeared as the first woman in Austria in an assembly- the general meeting of the Organisation of employed Women- as a speaker fort he equal rights for women in training and education. Hainisch further dealt in many publications with the problems of women and the necessity of resolving: for example „ Questions of the training of women“,“The question of bread for women“,“The question of women training“,“Seeresses, witches and delusions“. It is due to her essays, petitions and convincing speeches that since 1871 not only higher public schools for girls were established but also that the teaching programmes were adopted . 1892 the first girl grammar school emerged in Vienna. It was her essential merit that women were allowed to study medicine (1900) and at last after 1918 also law and technic. Women were also then admitted to join tradeschools, to have commercial  enterprises, an occupation at post  and telegrafoffices and other offices.

She recognized the necessity of joining together all women for the purpose to achieve common aims. 1899 she attended the Congress oft he International Council of Women in London, 1901 she founded the „Bund (Alliance) of Austrian Women Associations“ with like-minded women. She was the chairwoman of this organisation for a period of 16 years. 1909 she represented the Austrian women at the International Women World Congress in Toronto, where she was elected vicepresident of the Women World Alliance. Afterwards she started a longer study trip through the United States.

During and after the World War I Hainisch acted in inummerable relief organisations as well as in organisations created by anglo-saxon women.

Together with the Nobel Peace Prize winner Berta von Suttner she was fighting for the Peace Comission in the Alliance of Austrian Women Associations. She engaged herself against alcoholism and was busy preparing the consent  for the women´s right to vote in Austria.

Still in her old age she was lively interested in the organization of the Youth Red Cross and the Movement of the Boy/Girl Scouts.. Her late life was filled to successfully propagate the introduction of the Mother´s Day in Austria (1924) and the Good Will Days.


  • Perger Lydia. Marianne Hainisch, Kämpferin für Kultur, Gerechtigkeit und Frieden, /1989/Wien/Eigenverlag Perger                              
  • Conrad Bettina und Leuschner Ulrike. Führende Frauen Europas, Elga Kerns Standardwerk von 1928/1930,/1999/München,Basel/Ernst Reinhard Verlag.

Photocredits: Marianne Hainisch, photograph from 1872, author unknown.

Source: Picture archive ONB Pf 3759 CD, Pietzner, Carl, um 1904