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Anna-Lisa Wilhelmsson in Åseda, one of many female forest owners in Södra, explains how she experienced being a forest owner and working in her own forest in an article in Södra kontakt nr: 1986
Equal rights to marital property and inheritance have existed in Sweden since 1845. But there were loopholes that made it possible to circumvent these systems. Until 1890, for example, sons were entitled to choose their share of an inheritance first. And although women were entitled to own land and forest, they were not permitted to manage their property until they came of age.
Unmarried women were legal minors until 1863, and a married woman was a legal minor until 1921. However, if a woman who owned forest got married before 1921, her husband’s title to the land continued to apply. This rule was not changed until 1950. Breakdown of traditional gender roles
Women have mostly acquired forest through inheritance – as widows or daughters – or through co-ownership with their spouse. Over the past few decades, however, there has been a major shift in relation to forestry and inheritance. Previously, forests were usually passed down to the eldest son. Today, it is more common that several family members take over the forest together. One reason is the breakdown of traditional gender roles, where men worked outside the home and women looked after the home.
In the past, harvesting was largely manual and required a certain amount of physical strength. That has now changed due to mechanisation and technology and, subsequently, the percentage of female forest owners has risen. In the mid-1970s, one-fifth of all forest owners were women. In 1996, twenty years later, women accounted for 37 percent of forest ownership, which is more than a third.
In Södra today, 33 percent of forest owners are women. A total of 125,000 women are forest owners and own forest companies in Sweden, making “forest owner” the largest category of female-owned businesses in the country.
An association for women forest owners, Spillkråkan (the Black Woodpecker), was created in 1998, and arranges courses in forestry. The aim is to strengthen women’s influence in the Swedish forest industry. In several places across Södra’s area there are now well-established networks for women who either own or are interested in, forest. The aim is to learn more about forest management while having fun together.
Find out more about the women’s networks here:
- Dryaderna – Halland and southwest Småland – www.dryaderna.se
- Grenverket – Blekinge – www.grenverket.se
- Spillkråkan – local groups in Skåne and Östergötland – www.spillkrakan.se
- Linneorna – Västra Kronoberg – Annalena Andersson tel: 0476-268 55 or
- Skogskvinns – A network for women who run businesses focused on forest-related activities – www.skogskvinns.se