‘What a visit to Stockholm taught me about democracy, women, peace, and security’

PhD candidate Gilda Hoxha from Albania shares her reflections on the December 2017 SI study visit on Democracy and Openness.

'What a visit to Stockholm taught me about democracy, women, peace, and security'
Photo: Provinah Robert​

The morning started with SI scholars getting to know each other in person while we were waiting to pass through security into the Riksdag (the Swedish Parliament).

After this we were introduced to a guide at the main hall, where we got our first intonations about the building.

With a quick look you can understand that the building is a combination between old and amazing architecture and modern facilities infrastructure.

The Riksdag is actually composed of seven buildings, some of these buildings are connected by undergrounds tunnels.

Walking inside the Riksdag you notice several mural paintings, each of them telling you a moment from Swedish history; and a light green color is present in almost each corner.

Something that may be different from other parliament buildings in world is that Riksdag also has rooms for MPs to live in just beneath the roof. It should also be noted that the building Riksdag 3 used to a Bank.

During our one hour tour we got the chance to get more information on the decision-making process in Sweden’s representative democracy.

This discussion generated a great deal of discussion about democracy in Sweden through which we also understood that gender balance seems to no longer by an issue in Swedish politics since seats in parliament are divided almost 50-50 between women and men.

After the tour, we got the chance to walk through Gamla Stan and have lunch. After lunch and we continued with discussions where we tried to share as much as we could with each other about our different, colorful countries and cultures.

The afternoon started with workshop at Kvinna till Kvinna where Anna-Carin Hall introduced us to the goals and operations of Kvinna till Kvinna (Women to Women): women, peace, and security.

These words can be understood differently from different cultural backgrounds, but it looks like modern society in each country has similar issues concerning respecting human rights, especially women’s rights.

Kvinna till Kvinna supports more than 100 women’s organisations in five regions affected by conflict: Central and Western Africa, the Middle East, the South Caucasus and the Western Balkans.

During the workshop we were also presented with successful cases where women had played an important role in peace in countries where civil conflicts where very dangerous and destructive, such as Liberia.

The best part of the workshop was a game where we had to choose words related to peace, and how we can relate to peace. The result for me was that peace is related to us differently relative to the issues our home countries may be dealing with. The day ended with a fika and promises to each other to meet again in Stockholm.

Gilda Hoxha is studying at Södertörn University College. She is originally from Albania.


Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

Ronoh Philip, who is studying for his masters degree in Infectious Disease Control at Södertörn University, explains why he thinks the Swedish concept of 'lagom' is the best way to achieve good social health.

Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

During my one week orientation program on August 2019 at Södertörn University, we were presented with many aspects of Swedish culture and practices. One of the new aspects that I learnt was the “lagom culture”, As I quote one of the presenters about applying lagom to our studies, he said: ”Lagom will reduce your stressful burdens of hectic lecture schedules and ensure that you spend equal time of working and socializing in the university.”

So being a student with a background in public health and society, I got interested and searched for the deeper meaning of lagom, and how it can  apply to society and health. I found out that it is a Swedish way of life, it is a concept which means not too much and not too little, just enough. I learnt that it came from a Viking tradition laget om which means 'around the group' and was allegedly used to describe just how much mead or soup one should drink when passing the bowl around in the group.

If this concept is applied to achieve social health goals, it would really fit well. So, what is social health at first? Social health is how you interact with other people and adapt in different situations, it deals with how people in society deal with each other. It is important to note that there is a close link between good social health and improvement of the other aspects of human health, this can lead to the achievement of SDG goal of good health and wellbeing. It also leads to self-satisfaction and happiness; no wonder Sweden is ranked as one the happiest countries in the world. It is ranked 7th in 2019, according to world happiness report. I believe lagom has a big role in this achievement.

In the country where I come from, Kenya, one of the greatest challenges we face in our society, is the ability for people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds to interact and form positive and cohesive relationships with each other. From my perspective, when I finish my studies and return, lagom will be worth implementing in the workplace, the place where I live and the society as whole, as it is the best way of finding simple, attainable solutions to our everyday worries like stress, eating better, having downtime and achieving happiness. It’s a balance of work and life, so everything is in sustainable existence with each other.

My goal during my entire university studies at Södertörn, will be to learn more about the lagom principle and also be able to apply it on our SI NFGL Local Network platform, because it is surely one of the best ways to achieve a good  work-life balance, reaching consensus with my colleagues and adapting a team minded approach in dealing with issues in an organization and the society.