The Swedish Federation of Liberal Women
The Swedish Federation of Liberal Women is the Women’s organization of the Swedish Liberal Party. In the beginning of the 20th century there were many remarkable and well known female liberals. Selma Lagerlöf, the noble prize winner was one of them.
The origin of our organization lies in the movement for women’s right to vote. A small group of liberal women started a political magazine (Tidevarvet) in which they published articles from a liberal point of view written by individual contributors. One of their main ideas was the belief that men and women should have the same rights and responsibilities in a democratic society. The group formed in 1935 the core of what become the federation of liberal women. The organization soon established itself throughout the country.
Our objectives are:
- Recruiting women for political work
- Supporting women to get high political positions.
- Influencing the policies of the Liberal Party to have an equality perspective
- Raisingawareness of gender equality issues
Gulan Avci is the president of The Swedish Federation of Liberal Women. There are 20 active districts all over Sweden and more are in the starting blocks. Every second year a congress is held, where the president, the central board and the political platform is elected. Currently there is 1300 members.
Our most important political issues
- Promoting economic independence for women – Economic independence is a prerequisite to enable both women and men to exercise control over their lives and to make independent choices.
- Ending men’s violence against women – Society, as a whole, can only breathe freely when violence against women has ended
- Fighting honour-based oppression and honour-based violence – Swedish law should protect all its citizen. Repressive cultural practices will never be tolerated as an excuse to oppress women.
- Women’s health – Create equal research and healthcare. Let the female perspective permeate medical research and medical education
Throughout history liberal women have fought many battles for equality. The most important one is, of course, women’s right to vote but another important win for equality was the abolition of joint taxation. The Liberal woman Ingrid Gärde Widemar fought during her 20 years in parliament against both the Socialdemocrats and the Conservatives and in 1971, joint taxation was finally abolished.
In 1975, the Swedish government made public daycare available and affordable to all. The parental leave insurance replaced the standing maternity leave policy. The legislation provided parents financial benefits to take care of their children for up to six total months, to be divided as decided upon by the parents. In 1995 several major reforms attempted to increase men’s leave taking. The Liberal Party Minister, Bengt Westerberg, introduced the first of these reforms in 1994, reserving a month of the given leave time for each parent; it was coined the “daddy month”, inferring that the reform was created to make the father take at least one month. If the designated parent do not use the month, then it is forfeited. In 2002, another month for each parent was added.
Another important victory for equality and for the Swedish federation of Liberal Women was the right to free abortion. Through their political magazine, founded in 1923, they tried to influence the public opinion in favour of free abortion during the 20ties and 30ies. A committee was assigned by the government to investigate the issue. Gerda Kjellberg and Alma Sundqvist were on the committee as experts, both members of the Liberal women’s national league (forerunner to the Swedish Federation of Liberal Women).
During the sixties abortion was debated again. The youth organizations of the Liberal and Social democratic Party submitted motions on free abortion in 1963. In 1965, a government committee was assigned to study the application of the 1938 Abortion Act and to consider alternatives for future legislation. This time the Swedish Federation of Liberal Women was represented by Ruth Hamrin-Thorell. The committee’s report proposed that a woman should have an unconditional right, to decide whether to terminate her pregnancy or not. The Swedish Parliament approved the final version of the committee’s recommendations with 214 votes for the new law and 103 against it. The law became known as the Swedish Abortion Law of 14 June 1974.
In the 21th century one of the prominent issues that the Swedish Federation of Liberal Women has worked for is honour-based oppression and honour-based violence. In 2006 Nyamko Sabuni, member of the Liberal party, became the first Swedish cabinet minister of African descent. Since her election to parliament, four years previously, she had fought fiercely for female equality and against repressive cultural practices.
”There must be women (and men), brave
and courageous enough to dare to stand for a meaning, even if the
is not popular, but perhaps meant to characterize the future.“
– Elisabeth Tamm (1880-1958)
Pioneer and Member of Parliament for the Swedish Liberal Party