Amanda Horney was a pioneer of the Social-Democratic women’s movement who was also active in the campaign for women’s suffrage.
Amanda Horney was born in Stockholm in 1857. Her mother died just two weeks after giving birth to her. Her family’s dire financial straits resulted in her being forced to leave school at the age of 12 and pushed into employment. She went on to earn her living as a furniture polisher and eventually became a single mother to her son.
As per a later account of her life published in Morgonbris, it was the “hard school of life [that] encouraged her to become a Social-Democrat”. Amanda Horney was comparatively old – 35 years old – when the conditions arose which facilitated her political activism. Along with a number of other women she founded Stockholms Allmänna Kvinnoklubb (Stockholm Public Women’s club) in 1892 and served as the group’s first chair, just ten years after August Palm had begun to promote social democracy in Sweden, and three years after the Social-Democratic workers’ party of Sweden (SAP) had been set up.
On Amanda Horney’s initiative the club began to promote women’s suffrage during its first year of existence. This development occurred in conjunction with the holding of the first so-called ‘folk’ (people’s) parliament of 1893 in which she demanded that female workers should have their own representative. Although this did not come to pass, a woman – Emilie Rathou – was elected and Amanda Horney was appointed as spokesperson for the suffragettes. According to a contemporary press release this took place at a meeting at Lilljans where almost 10,000 delegates were present. From then on defending the civil rights of women became her most important issue. At the SAP conference of 1905 she thus supported Hinke Bergegren who opposed the party leadership line which held that women’s suffrage should only be campaigned for after all men had been given the right to vote. The Stockholm club was split over this issue and, like many, Amanda Horney was very disturbed at the bitterness which it generated between club members. Later she did not trust male Social-Democrats to prioritise the demands for women’s suffrage. At the 1911 women’s Social-Democratic congress she consequently argued that instead the members should cooperate with the ‘bourgeois’ (conservative) suffragettes. The women’s suffragette association deserved respect and, as she put it, “we clearly see that men – even those on our side – are not prepared to award us more than they are forced and compelled to do”. That same year she was also elected as a board member of the non-party aligned but largely conservative Förening för kvinnans politiska rösträtt (FKPR) (national association for women’s suffrage).
Amanda Horney was a member of the Social-Democratic women’s congress executive committee from 1908–1911, and when Stockholmsklubben suffered somewhat of a crisis during the 1920s she returned as its chair. During the 1920s she was also a member of the poor-relief agency in Klara parish in Stockholm. Within the Social-Democratic women’s movement Amanda Horney has come to be seen as one of the true veterans. She died in 1953 aged 96.