Four female politicians in Sweden


There are many politicians in this country, both women and men. Some are good or even excellent, others less so. Then of course it depends on what kind of values you have yourself when you accept or reject a certain political agenda. I have had my favourite politicians over the years and met some that I really like. In this text I have chosen four female politicians that have made an impression on me. There are others that I’ve met and have got good relations to, such as Adina Trunk, Christian Democrat and Amineh Kakabaveh, who’s an MP for the Left Party for example.

I don’t have to share the same ideology with everyone I’m impressed by or describe, but there’s something in their dedication that has captured my interest. Since I as a social liberal like to talk with people from different camps, it’s not strange that I have chosen politicians of various colours. Two days from now I will write about four male ones. The women I’ve chosen are Maria Leissner and Nyamko Sabuni from the People’s Party the Liberals/Folkpartiet Liberalerna, Anna Lindh from the Social Democrats/Socialdemokraterna, and Maria Wetterstrand from the Environment Party/Miljöpartiet. The sketched portraits I’ve made I did after known photographs.

Maria Leissner: Born in 1956 in Gothenburg. At the age of 25 she became secretary of the Liberal Youth Association, a post she held until 1983. That year she was elected as Board Member of the People’s Party/Folkpartiet. When I met her in the spring of 2012 she was working with aiding the Roms in getting a better life. She is a well-dressed and impressive woman that still keeps a dignified and intelligent profile. Between 1985 and 1991 she was Member of Parliament and in 1995 she was elected as the People’s Party’s party leader. The year before the Conservative alliance had lost the elections, and her predecessor Bengt Westerberg wanted then to co-operate with the Social Democrats. Under Maria Leissner the party politics turned more conservative and bourgeois. Leissner didn’t succeed in raising the interest for the party however and she left her post as party leader in 1997. Then she became advisor for SIDA, and in 2000 Swedish ambassador in Guatemala. Between 2004 and 2005 Maria Leissner was responsible for a democracy project in Iraq. Back in Sweden she was in 2006 asked by former Integration Minister Nyamko Sabuni to become Head of the delegation for Rom/Gypsie issues. A year later Leissner also became ambassador for the work with democracy and development.  It’s these issues she’s working with now.

Nyamko Sabuni: Nyamko Sabuni was born in Bujumbura, Burundi in 1969.  In 1981, when she was 12, she came as a refugee to Sweden with her family. As a grown-up woman she became a pr-consultant and politician within the People’s Party.  Her main interests have been commerce and gender equality, and it’s these issues she has dedicated her life to. In 2002 Nyamko Sabuni became a Member of Parliament and two years later Member of the Party Board. She also wrote a book about honour-related life and crime called “Flickorna vi sviker”=”The Girls We Let Down”. In September 2006 I told her about the manuscript to my second novel on the same theme “Honour or Conscience?” = “Heder eller samvete?” and she got curious. In December 2010 I sent her a copy of the extended and improved version of my book which she read that Christmas I’ve been told. Just a few days after I was in contact with her the first time in 2006 Nyamko Sabuni was elected to become a Minister in the present Conservative-Liberal government. Between 2006 and 2010 Nyamko Sabuni was our Minister of Integration, and from 2006 until January 2013 our Minister of Gender Equality as well as our Deputy Minister of Education. Our new Minister of Gender Equality is Maria Arnholm.  Sabuni was criticized for never calling herself a feminist, but she stated that she was a Liberal and the other epithets were less important. As a Minister she wanted to ban veils/hijab in schools and also have gynecology checks to prevent female circumcision, called fibula. Nyamko Sabuni also criticized religious schools. I get the impression that Nyamko Sabuni has had a tough time within the government these last seven years, and that she wasn’t taken seriously enough. Still she did try to help girls and women with immigrant background, and she no doubt has done more in that field as a minister than any other.  I wish her all the best.

Anna Lindh:  Anna Lindh was born in Enskede in 1957. In 1969 at the age of 12 Anna Lindh became active within the Social Democratic Youth Union, SSU, and as a young woman she studied Law. 1991 – 1994 Anna Lindh had the responsibility for culture and leisure time in Stockholm, and was also head of Stockholm City Theatre. In 1994 she was elected as Minister of Environment and Foreign Affairs under Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson, leader of the Social Democrats then. Those days were tough too, and Lindh had to cut the finances for the Environment issues, but she did sharpen the laws on the matter. Within the EU she worked hard for an environment program with stricter rules against dangerous chemicals. After 1998 Anna Lindh also intervened in the Kosovo Albanian – Serbian conflict when Serb military had annihilated Kosovo Albanians. Three years later Anna Lindh presided as Head of the Minister Council in EU, responsible for Foreign Issues. As a person and minister she was well liked by many. She had an intelligent, but also very warm and down-to-earth personality, cared for her loved ones when she was away, had near to her laughter and disarming self-irony.  In Sweden she would become one of the most appreciated and venerated women of all times. Many saw her as a potential candidate for the next Prime Minister. At the end of her career Anna Lindh criticized Ariel Sharon and Israel for their atrocities, but also Palestinian suicide bombers. On September 10th 2003 she was out shopping with a friend at the mall NK in central Stockholm when she was attacked by the young man Mijailo Mijailović who stabbed her and fled. Anna Lindh died from her wounds the following day at Karolinska Sjukhuset/Caroline Hospital leaving the Swedish people in shock. Mijailovic has later in jail explained that he hated all politicians and it just happened to be her that he killed.

Maria Wetterstrand: She was born in Eskilstuna in 1973.  She graduated from Gothenburg University with a Master Degree in biology. In 1988 Maria Wetterstrand became a member of the Environment Party, a fairly new party in those days, which was started a few years earlier by separatists from the People’s Party. The new party wanted more focus on environment and ecology, a sounder lifestyle, gender equality and a liberalism that took responsibility for the social issues. Instead of electing party leaders the Swedish Environment Party chose to have two “spokes persons”, one man and one woman at a time. Maria Wetterstrand started Green Youth in Eskilstuna as a young woman and between 1996 and 1999 she was spokes person within Green Youth together with Paulo Silva. She was also politically active in Gothenburg for a time. 2002 – 2011 Maria Wetterstrand shared the post as spokes person within the main party together with Peter Eriksson. Those two shared that public role in three elections and did well. The combination Wetterstrand – Eriksson did the trick, and the Environment Party became more and more taken seriously. Between the years 2002 and 2011 the Environment Party/Miljöpartiet increased their number of voters from 4,5 to 7,5. Today Maria Wetterstrand is working as a green debater and lecturer.

On Sunday I will write about four male counterparts to the women above. Until then,have a nice day.

Anders Moberg, February the 22d 2013


1 thought on “Four female politicians in Sweden

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