Birgit Rodhe was the secretary-general of the Christian students’ movement in Sweden and she was Minister for Education in the People’s Party government 1978-1979.
Birgit Rodhe was born in Stockholm in 1915. After gaining her school-leaving certificate she studied at Uppsala University. There she gained her Bachelor’s degree in 1939. In 1940 she married Sten Rodhe, with whom she went on to have four children.
Birgit Rodhe was a teacher who initially worked in Karlstad and later in Malmö, where she also became the principal of the municipal girls’ school in 1956. She became deputy director of education in Malmö in 1963. She also served as deputy chair of Sveriges högre flickskolors lärarförbund (Swedish association of teachers at advanced girls’ schools) from 1961 to 1963.
Birgit Rodhe was very active within the church. In addition to her post as secretary-general of the Christian students’ movement in Sweden from 1939 to 1944 she was also a member of Svenska Ekumeniska Nämnden (today: Christian Council of Sweden) from 1948 to 1974. She published several books on both spiritual and church matters, two of them in collaboration with her husband. In 1972 she was appointed chair of the Bible commission which became responsible for a new translation of the Bible. She had to give up this role when she became a cabinet minister in 1978.
From 1959 to 1976 Birgit Rodhe was a member of Malmö city council and she served as a municipal commissioner for teaching and culture from 1971 to 1973. She was also the chair of Statens kulturråd (Swedish Arts Council) from 1977 to 1978.
As Minister of Education in the People’s Party government from 1978 to 1979 Birgit Rodhe was in charge of producing a new curriculum for primary schools, where emphasis was placed on the basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetics. She also initiated a study into more generous conditions for schools with separate principals.
After retiring in 1980 Birgit Rodhe dedicated herself to researching the history of education, amongst other things. She was awarded an honorary doctorate from Lund University in 1993. She died in 1998 and is buried at the Norra cemetery in Lund.