SWEOR, the female Vikings!

Följande artikel är skriven av Agneta de Bekassy för ScandAsia den 18 augusti 2023.

Have you ever heard about SWEA? If not, I will give you an introduction to this quite unique, huge women organization. A SWEA, can be described as a female Viking. Sweor have sailed the seas, crossed the lines, followed the streams and climbed the mountains.

We are a group of Swedish women/Swedish speaking women, who have spread our wings and moved all over the world. We have left our comfort zone to discover other countries, new cultures and foreign languages.
This Swedish Women organization SWEA (Swedish Women Educational Association) was founded by a woman named Agneta Nilsson in 1979. Agneta and a few Swedish friends, started in Agneta’s garage in Los Angeles/California. It is a 100 % non profit organization that has grown to the biggest women organization in the world today.

If you ask Agneta, if she ever could have imagined how important and well known her organization would become, her answer is: “no, no, definitely not.”

You will find a SWEA chapter almost all over the world and more are to come. All in all, SWEA International has around 70 chapters today in 7 different regions. In South East Asia you have chapters in Bangkok, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Soul. The mother organization is called Swedish Women’s Educational Association International Inc, simply called SWEA International.

There is a democratically elected board with an International President, a Vice President and 7 international elected region presidents. Additionally there is a treasurer and a secretary elected by the board and with voting rights.

There are also several committees and a Head of Administration and an Adviser.

So, what are the purposes of this organization?
SWEA shall work for promoting Swedish culture, Swedish language and traditions. SWEA is supporting Swedish companies abroad and enjoys a close co-operation with the Swedish embassies, churches and school organizations as well as with the Swedish Chambers of Commerce.

SWEA is handing out 3 attractive scholarships at an amount of 15000 US $ each yearly in following categories: Research in the Swedish language. This year the scholarship went to Svea Larson for her research about the Swedish language, “Feeling at home”: Materiality of Transnational Swedish Domesticity, 1880-1940.

Agneta and Gunnar Nilssons Scholarship for the Study of Intercultural Relations and Sigrid Paskells Scholarship in the Performing Arts.

Ami-Louise Johnsson received the Sigrid Paskell’s scholarship for completing her Master education at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London. Her instrument is the alt violin/viola.

Agneta and Gunnar Nilsson’s scholarship went to Julia Sahlström. She is a PhD student at the University of Stockholm, writing a thesis about the Jew’s memories and experiences of the holocaust.

These 3 scholarships can not be applied by SWEOR. During many years, these scholarships have made it possible for young people to follow their dreams. Professional judges are going through all the applications.

ÅSK, the Woman of the year, is also elected every year by all members. It is an award to an outstanding Swedish woman, who has accomplished something special.

This year 2023, the award went to Ann-Marie Eklund Löwinder, one of Sweden’s leading experts in information and IT security.

Ann-Marie is one of 14 persons in the world, who has been elected to be one of the “Trusted Community Representatives” and “Crypto Officer”, a very impressive award.

Worth mentioning is that SWEA International also has donated over 1 million sek to an organization called “Beredskapslyftet” (The Emergency Lift) to support and help Ukranian women who have escaped to Sweden, due to the war, to learn our language and making it easier for them to get a job in Sweden.

These awards are given to the selected persons during SWEA’s yearly Summer dinner. This year, the Gothenburg chapter was hosting the dinner as well as other events during 3 days. It’s first after being part of a Summerdinner, or/and a World meeting, that you realize how fun and rewarding it is to be a member in SWEA.

When you have spent years abroad as an expat and are thinking of moving back home to Sweden due to several reasons, there are 4 very important chapters, Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö and Örestad (different places in Skåne) that will welcome you with open arms.

You might wonder why SWEA is so important when you move back to Sweden?
It often happens that you feel odd, not fitting in again in the Swedish society, you speak kind of another language and that makes you a foreigner to a Swede who never experienced living abroad. Here, within these 4 chapters, you will find your like minded persons.

In Bangkok there is a dynamic SWEA chapter, today with approximately 40 members, more than 60 before the outbreak of covid. SWEA Bangkok started as a subchapter to Singapore, but soon became an independent chapter and nowadays has more than 20 years to look back on.

There are several daytime events and evening programs every month. A small group of members is working hard to find attractive events.

We also have a sub group called SWEA Professionals, focusing on working women, retired working women and anyone who wants to be part of it. Most of these events are during evenings, but also visits to Swedish companies are taking place during the daytime. SWEA Bangkok has a very tight cooperation with SWECHAM/Swedish-Thai Chamber of Commerce. We also support the Swedish School organization etc.

There is so much to tell about SWEA. SWEA has changed many women’s lives. If you are Swedish or a Swedish speaking woman in Thailand and wants to learn more about us, please go to our webpage.bangkok.swea.org or contact bangkok.webbit@swea.org

SWEA, with all its more than 6000 members, is opening a new world where nothing is impossible. A SWEA’s proword is: A SWEA can, [‘en SWEA kan’].

Become a member today, you will not regret it!