March 8 is International Women’s Day, and what better way to celebrate it than by looking back at Swedish history as seen from a woman’s perspective?

Here’s a general outline celebrating how WOMEN'S RIGHTS have changed in Sweden from the 17th to 21st centuries:


1632 – A school for girls is founded in Västerås by Johannes Rudbeckius. The girls are being taught in catechism, reading, counting and other things that they might need later on.

1748 – Den Kungliga Vetenskapsakademien (The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences) receives its first female member: Countess Eva De la Gardie-Ekeblad, an agronomist and scientist whose most known discovery was to make flour and alcohol out of potatoes (1746).

1773 – Konstakademin (Swedish Academy of Arts) receives its first female member, Ulrika Pasch. Also the first woman’s magazine is published by Anna Hammar-Rosén. It’s called “Hvad nytt? Hvad nytt?” (What’s new? What’s new”), and it is rumored to have been of high literary quality.

1839 – Carl Jonas Love Almqvist’s book feminist book “Det går an” is published

1845 – Equal right of inheritance for men and women is being introduced.

1846 – Unmarried women (including widows and divorcees) are permitted to work with crafts and certain trade.

1853 – Women are given the right to teach in smaller folk schools.

1858 – An unmarried woman who has turned 25 may be considered “of lawful age” if she applies for it in court. Should she then marry she loses this privilege.

1864 – Men lose their rights to lawfully own their wives.

1872 – Women may decide for themselves who they want to marry.

1873 – Women may pass academic examinations at universities, albeit not in theology or law.

1884 – The Fredrika Bremer Association is founded.

1886 – The first women’s trade union is founded: Home seamstresses in Lund. Russian mathematician Sonya Kovalevsky becomes the first female university professor.

1888 – The first female with a Medical Licentiate, Karolina Widerström.

1900 – Kata Dahlström becomes the first woman in the Social Democratic Party executive.

1901 – Right to time off (without salary) for women after they’ve given birth.

1909 – Selma Lagerlöf receives the Nobel Prize in Literature.

1913 – Anna Herslow and Kristina Frank become the first city councilwomen, Malmö.

1914 – Selma Lagerlöf becomes the first female member of the Swedish Academy.

1919 – Women get the right to vote.

1921 – The law of a woman’s virginity at marriage is cancelled.

1935 – Women get the same kind of state pension as men.

1936 – Women employed by the state get the right to take a leave of absence during pregnancy and birth. Paid.

1937 – Equal salaries for male and female elementary school teachers.

1937-1938 – The ban against the use, information and sales of contraceptives is abolished.

1945 – Austrian physicist Lise Meitner becomes the first female member of the Academy of Science.

1947 – Child benefit for everyone is established. Karin Kock becomes Sweden’s first female local government commissioner.

1949 – Women, along with men, are acknowledged as guardians of their children.

1955 – Women are allowed 90 days of maternity leave.

1958 – Women are allowed to become pastors.

1960 – Same salary for same work for men and women.

1964 – Oral contraceptive pills are approved.

1970 – Equal rights are written into the curriculum at schools.

1972 – The first March 8 demonstration takes place. Arranged by Grupp 8.

1975 – A new abortion law is being introduced. Now the woman may decide herself regarding abortion up to the 18th week of pregnancy.

1976 – Anna Christensen becomes the first female professor of law.

1979 – Parents of young children have the right to 6-hour workdays.

1982 – Domestic violence is subject to public prosecution. Women may chose to keep their maiden name at time of marriage.

1983 – All professions are open for women. Even the ones in Swedish national defense.

1985 – Karin Söder becomes Sweden’s first female party leader (the Center Party).

1994 – The Swedish Parliament becomes the most equal in the world, of the 349 members, 144 are women.

1997 – Christina Odenberg becomes the first female bishop.

1998 – A law banning the sale of sexual favors.

2000 – Wanja Lundby-Wedin becomes the first female chairwoman of the trade union LO.

2018 - Greta Thunberg, the young climate activist who created a global movement need no introduction.

In a country like Sweden it is relatively good to be a woman. That is, in general; there are severe exceptions such as women without papers who are hiding and have no access to protection from abuse. Read more - Battered 'paperless' women