The Dartmouth's Viduhsi Sharma covers Margot Wallström Visit

On April 11, 2024, the Dickey Center for International Understanding hosted a conversation titled "More Than Lip Service" with former Swedish foreign affairs minister Margot Wallström. Dickey Center director Victoria Holt moderated the discussion, which was part of the Obenshain Family Great Issues Lectures series — a series featuring distinguished scholars and practitioners from the world of international affairs.  

Approximately 50 people attended the event in person, while 20 joined via a livestream, according to Dawn Carey, associate director of Global Health and Development at the Dickey Center.

Wallström began her remarks by discussing her journey to becoming a high-ranking Swedish politician, explaining that she never thought she would enter the world of politics. 

"I come from a working-class family in the north of Sweden with no background or context of political engagement or trade unionists, or anything of that sort," she said.

Wallström said her work in politics began locally, after a neighbor asked her to start a youth club at age 17. She said she founded the club when "times were political," pointing to the Vietnam War and strife in Chile. 

"We followed everything that went on in the international scene, and we were very engaged," Wallström said. "That really raised our interest in politics. It was foreign policy that did so."

Wallström then discussed her role as the United Nations special representative on sexual violence in conflict — a position that was "very much about fighting impunity" for sexual crimes in war.

"It was a matter of traveling towards these hotspots and war-torn countries or post-conflict countries to listen to survivors," she said. "It left me with a heavier heart but also with more hope for the future because all of these survivors insisted not to be treated as a victim."

First published in The Dartmouth on April 15, 2024. Read the rest of Sharma's piece here