Around the world, SWEOR celebrated the 40 year anniversary of SWEA in May this year.
SWEA International must be the world’s biggest women organization today. What once started in Mother SWEA, Agneta Nilsson’s garage in Los Angeles 1979, with a few Swedish women gathering together, has today become an organization with more than 7000 members all over the world. Chapter after chapter has popped up and all belong to the “mother” SWEA International. SWEA International is a nonprofit organization and it’s amazing to see how many women there are contributing to make SWEA what it is today.
Agneta Nilsson is the driving spirit, has always been and will always be. So, who is this extraordinary woman?
Agneta Nilsson grew up in Sweden, where she attended Schartau Trade and Economic School and the Stockholm School of Economics.
At an age of 21, she travelled to New York on a scholarship and after that year, she and some Swedish friends went to California. This led to, that she and one of the friends, ended up starting their own business in Beverly Hills; making bikinis.
At that time it was not allowed to wear bikini in public, so they sold to women with private pools and some small boutiques.
The beginning of SWEA
Agneta met her husband Gunnar Nilsson in Los Angeles and got married to him in Stockholm 1963 and after the wedding they returned to Los Angeles.
Gunnar was working for SAS and it made it easy for Agneta to stay in touch with Sweden and her Swedish friends. She had Swedish papers and lots of Swedish guests, but still, she sometimes longed for her country and its culture. Agneta and Gunnar had children and when they were grown up, Agneta had time for her interests.
In the end of the 70s, she and a friend hosted a Christmas Fair in Los Angeles. It was SWEA Los Angeles first Christmas bazaar and became a big success. Today it’s a huge annual fair that many look forward to attending. At the first bazaar approximately 80 people showed up and Agneta and her friend sold SWEA memberships to almost every visiting Swedish woman. This is how SWEA was founded.
The SWEA setup
The purpose and goals of SWEA are many. SWEA International is the head organization and has a president, a vice president and 7 board-presidents. There are 3 regions in Europe, 3 in the US and 3 in Asia. All of them have annual meetings. The board of directors comes from different parts of the world.
SWEA International has 2 part time consultants; administrating manager and office manager.
SWEA International gives out 3 scholarships annual of 10.000 US$ each. SWEA International has also donated 250.000 sek to the Swedish National Museum.
Every year SWEA International chooses a woman to be “The Swedish Woman of the Year” and every summer there is a “Sweden dinner “in a city in Sweden. This year it will take place in Stockholm.
Lately “SWEA Global” has been added. If you don’t have a SWEA chapter around the corner, but still want to be a member of one, you can do so.
“SWEA Professionals” started a few years ago and focus more on the younger and working generation. Here you organize meetings with companies, does visits to factories, invites interesting speakers etc. Lately some chapters have started “SWEA Care”, there they help and assist elderly people with e.g. driving them and giving a helping hand when needed.
How do you become a member in SWEA? You must be 18 years old and speak and understand the Swedish language well.
Agneta loves to promote Sweden and she is proud of her country. She has been chosen the “Swedish-American of the year” in 2006 among many other awards.
Now SWEOR aroiund the world are looking forward to the next coming celebrations, but first they will meet in Stockholm for the “Summer dinner” and in Dubai in November for the World meeting.
If you are not already a SWEA, don’t hesitate. Join a chapter close to you, it is great fun!
SWEA in Singapore threw a beach party
In Singapore, the 40 Year Anniversary of SWEA was celebrated with a beach party at Bikini Bar on Sentosa Island. During the evening, a newly composed SWEA song was sung for the first time. On the FaceBook page and Instagram, SWEA Singapore wrote:
“Grattis SWEA 40 år önskar SWEA Singapore! TACK till alla er som firade SWEA 40 år tillsammans med oss! Vilken fest det blev!”
SWEA KL celebrated on a rooftop
SWEA in Kuala Lumpur celebrated the 40 year anniversary on the top of the world – on a rooftop in KL.
SWEA Beijing at Duck de Chine
Beijing chapter celebrated at restaurant Duck de Chine i Wanfuijang. Mingel on the terrace in summer temperatur before a 13 dishes Chinese menu dinner. Lot’s of speeches and singing. Eventually, the dinner was rounded up with Swedish chocolate balls – egg-white whipped with sugar and dipped in melted chocolate.
SWEA Melbourne went on wine trip
SWEA Melbourne celebrated at Yarra Valley, visiting 4 vineyards in the wine district.
SWEA Japan got 10 years older – in 1 year
Last year, SWEA Japan celebrated its 30 year anniversary. Now, only one year later, SWEA got 10 years older, joked SWEA’s chairwoman in Japan, Lida Orstadius in her welcome speech to the 40 Year Anniversary. The party was held in a well decorated premises in Roppongi. The guests were SWEOR and their spouses who all enjoyed excellent Swedish food with bubbly.
After mingling with 70 & 80’s music in the background, the participants joined team competitions. The atmosphere was high and the willingness to fight strong when the price promised was cheese snacks. The SWEA chapter in Japan loves to have a good time and is already looking forward to the next anniversary in 9 and10 years respectively.