Hazel Hunkins Hallinan, 91, who spent most of her life demanding equality for women, died of respiratory failure May 17 at her home in London.

Mrs. Hallinan first came to Washington in 1916 to participate in marches and demonstrations to win the vote for women in federal elections. Her activities in behalf of this most fundamental of civil rights involved picketing Woodrow Wilson's White House, chaining herself to its fence and setting fire to its lawn. She was arrested, jailed and fed bad food. She went on a hunger strike.

In August 1977, she returned to this city to take part in a March for Equal Rights parade honoring Alice Paul, a founder of the National Woman's Party, and to commemorate the 57th anniversary on Aug. 26 of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guaranteed women the vote.

The women's movement had broadened and Mrs. Hallinan was marching for social and economic equality, not just equality at the polls. The crowd reaction to this march was light years away from what it was during her first march down Pennsylvania Avenue in 1917.

In that first march, angry men jeered and spat at her and her colleagues, slapped at her and tore her clothes. In 1977, she got farther than the White House fence. She met President Jimmy Carter, who proclaimed Women's Equality Day and restated his support for the Equal Rights Amendment.

In an interview, Mrs. Hallinan said she had lost count of the times she had been arrested in the days before the ratification of the 19th Amendment. But she did remember jail sentences of 20 to 30 days and she also remembered what it was like.

On one occasion in Washington, she said, she was arrested and "off we went to the Occoquan jail.

"The wardens were terrible men," she said. "The food was terrible--oatmeal full of worms. We all went on a hunger strike. We slept in a corridor in a long row, side by side on the cold, damp floor, all rolled up in blankets. Within the week President Wilson pardoned us."

Mrs. Hallinan became interested in women's rights when she was refused teaching positions in chemistry simply because she was a woman. In 1916, she heard a speech in Billings, Mont., on suffrage for women and discovered that she had found her life's work. She soon became the Montana state chairman of the National Woman's Party. She met Alice Paul, who invited her to come to Washington.

In 1920, she married Charles Thomas Hallinan. They moved to London in 1924 and Mrs. Hallinan continued her work for women in Britain.

Mrs. Hallinan was born in Aspen, Colo. She was a 1913 graduate of Vassar College and did graduate work in chemistry at the University of Missouri. During World War II, she and her husband came back to this country. They lived in Washington from 1941 to 1949 and then returned to London.

Mr. Hallinan died in 1971. Survivors include two sons, Dr. Timothy Hallinan of Falls Church, and Mark Hallinan of Glastonbury, Conn.; two daughters, Nancy Hallinan of New York City, and Joyce Cook of Washington Depot, Conn., and several grandchildren.