By Ocaya p’Ocure, a social media commentator, Uppsala, Sweden

PM Andersson

Let us accept and congratulate the ‘La Luta continua’ by the Swedish and the whole Nordic females and request them to look deeper into the way morbid political populism by the far-right wing male chauvinistic domination has been dominating the political squares in their midst. The democratic society we see today in Sweden and the several rights we have, have been the result of people's struggle. Individuals have been important in these struggles. People who, through their actions or their struggles, have pushed the boundaries of what is possible and have won rights for themselves and others. Truly, being a woman and fighting in a male world was a challenge. Many women pioneers faced opposition both for their views and for being women.

Freda StéenhoffFrida Stéenhoff (1865-1945) was a writer and a debater demanded female suffrage. She fought for women’s suffrage in the early 20th century. She was also one of the first in Sweden to use the term “feminism” in the sense of “equal rights and opportunities for women and men”. In 1903 she published a book entitled, The Morality of Feminism. For many advocates at that time, universal suffrage simply meant suffrage for all men, and that women should wait until later. In contrast, Frida Stéenhoff gave a lecture on 23 November 1905 which she titled, “Why should women wait”.

In that lecture, she argued that women should not wait, but that they had as great a right as all men to influence how society was governed. So, how did female suffrage in Sweden go? What is required for a functioning democracy? To begin with, everyone must be allowed to vote on who will govern the country. In Sweden, it varied over time as to who was qualified to vote and there were different voting rights for different people. Before 1919, the right to vote was related to how much tax you paid. The ones who were rich and paid a lot of tax had several votes in the election. Those who were the poorest were not allowed to vote at all. The right to vote was also related to gender. Only men were allowed to vote if they had paid enough tax.

Universal suffrage for men was introduced in 1909 when the suffrage was extended to apply to more men. Ten years later, a decision was made on universal and equal suffrage for men and women. Unmarried women were allowed to vote in local elections. Unmarried, adult women who had enough money could vote in municipal elections as early as 1862. But as soon as she married a man, she lost her right to vote. The teacher and politician Fredrik Theodor Borg wrote the first motion in Parliament on women’s suffrage in 1884. There were not many in Parliament who supported the proposal, and it was not until 1900 that the real fight for women’s suffrage began.

Male political party leadership is becoming some sort of endangered species. For example, out of the nine political parties in the Swedish Parliament, there exists only three males–some news columnists call it a meager regrowth. Therefore, it must be admitted that one must have some hesitation about the last “super Wednesday 24th–November 2021”, when Sweden’s first Female Prime Minister was elected, and which had elevated her to the highest level in Swedish women's political journey. However, this is unlike Barack Obama election as the first African American President where he had to penetrate the walls of blockages which brought down the likes of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. together with many other Civil Rights leaders. Well, several political and historical observers must not forget that the political journeys of females in Sweden for over 100 plus years had not been like the African Americans and those of other African countries from former Apartheid regimes in the Southern regions of African. Let us admit that Africans the world over, including former President Obama, are still struggling for freedom from heavy racial discrimination even in functional  democracies in Nordic countries.

SWEDEN is what I always call ‘A tame multi-party Democracy’ with eight political parties in the 349-member Swedish Parliament. They are Social Democrats (S), Moderates (M), Conservatives, Sweden Democrats (SD) Nationalists, Centers (C), Farmers (F), Left Party (V), Christian Democrats (KD), Liberals–Social Liberals (L), Green Party (MP). Though they were allowed to vote, as time went, Swedish females could not be nominated for elected political party leadership due to male chauvinism and political power greed. Consequently, the women resorted to going into all sectors of professions in Sweden.

For example, the current Prime Minister, Magdalena Andersson, studied at Stockholm University School of Economics, the Institute of Advanced Studies in Vienna, and  later at Harvard University. She then served as Minister of Finance in Sweden for 14 years and worked at the tax department for several years. As it stands today in Sweden, there exists more educated women than men, which makes men very angry and heavily joining the right wing racist political party, Sweden Democracy (SD), with very radical political agendas against immigrants. Out of the eight political parties in the Swedish Parliament, there are only 3 political parties led by men and both have been allied with the racist Right-Wing Conservatives.

African School GirlsTime will tell how the first female Swedish Prime Minister will do. Regardless, she is one more nail in the coffin of male domination of political power, not only in Sweden, but also the world over. In fact, despite staking their claim on democracy, the most powerful countries in the world including Russia, and China have not had a single woman in the top position. Even the highly touted American democracy has not had a single president in her 245 years of existence. In Europe, a handful of countries including United Kingdom, Germany, Finland, Hungary, Lithuania and Estonia, have been led by women. Asia has had a few including India, the Philippines, Pakistan and Cylon/Siri Lanka.  African countries led by women include Liberia, Malawi, Tanzania, and others.  Hopefully, PM Andersson's recent success, together with others before her, will encourage young girls like those in the picture above to aspire to become leaders of their country just like Freda Stéenhoff did for her