Lisa Mattson was a journalist and a member of the Swedish parliament, who also served as chair of Sveriges socialdemokratiska kvinnoförbund (Social Democratic women’s association of Sweden) for 17 years. She worked to establish equality between the sexes.
Lisa Mattson was born in Stockholm in 1918. She was the daughter of Ruben Mattson, a senior lecturer and later director of education, and his wife Ebba Norelius. Lisa Mattson had three siblings. The parental home was a conservative one. Following the death of Ruben Mattson in 1929 the family moved to Mariestad where one of Lisa Mattson’s maternal uncles was a chief district judge. Lisa Mattson saw out her childhood there. She became a student in Skara in 1937 and gained her Bachelor’s degree in English, statistics, and political science at Uppsala in 1941. It was during her time in Uppsala that she discovered her political leanings.
Lisa Mattson began her professional journey as a journalist for Tidning för Skaraborgs län and continued it working for Vestmanlands läns tidning. From 1941–1943 she was a journalist for Socialdemokraten, in 1944 she wrote for Idun, in 1945 for Morgon-Tidningen, and from 1946–1963 for Ny Tid. She often signed off as Gunlaug on her social reports for Ny Tid. This included using a secret identity as a swimmer, or dish-washer at Pustervikskällaren in Gothenburg, a factory worker at a sugar factory, and as a stewardess. In Ny Tid she also served as an editorial writer. Lisa Mattson was deputy chair of Publicistklubben and chair of the western circle of the same from 1954–1961. After her political career she also worked as a columnist for Göteborgs-Posten.
Lisa Mattson was a member of the Gothenburg city council from 1954–1959, she was elected into the first chamber of parliament in 1959 as a representative for the Social Democrats and remained in parliament until 1985. Lisa Mattson served as deputy chair of the justice committee from 1975–1985, a member of the European council from 1964, a delegate to the UN, and also a member of the board for the Riksdagsbiblioteket (parliamentary library) for 15 years. In 1964 Lisa Mattson seconded the cabinet minister Ulla Lindström in Swedish government family policies, consumer information, and social services in the home. Lisa Mattson also took over, at this time, the project run by ambassador Inga Thorsson for educating African women. She also undertook study trips to England, France, Switzerland, Austria, Iceland, and the Soviet Union.
Lisa Mattson was secretary of Göteborgs socialdemokratiska kvinnoklubb (Social Democratic women’s club) from 1956–1960, and a member of Sveriges socialdemokratiska kvinnoförbund (Social Democratic women’s association of Sweden) international council from 1961 onwards. During the period of 1964–1981 she was chair of Sveriges socialdemokratiska kvinnoförbund, in which she was described as a typical team-player. When the very existence of the association was under threat she felt that its purpose was to serve as an important enforcer of family policies. As a politician she championed free abortion, women’s rights to employment, the proper education of young women, equal pay, support for unmarried mothers, six-hour working days for parents with children under the age of eleven, parental leave for both parents, and the further development of pre-schools. Lisa Mattson was often criticised for seeking to get rid of housewives, but she always claimed that all women should have the choice as to whether they worked at home or within the wider employment market, even following a lengthy period of being a housewife. She was consistently opposed to carers’ allowances for families with children. Lisa Mattson believed that women’s situations were relevant to society as a whole. She was very proud of the equality reforms which began to emerge from the 1960s onwards, such as individual taxation and the new marital laws. In the 1980s Lisa Mattson worked to change inheritance laws so that all spouses, following the loss of their partner, would have the right to continue living in their joint home, and this did become law.
Lisa Mattson contributed to the publication entitled Familjen i framtiden. En socialistisk familjepolitik, which was released in 1974. During the 1970s she was involved in publishing the series called Kvarteret Framtiden, in which the women’s visions for society were published.
Lisa Mattson was a low-key but ambitious politician who liked to get results and who preferred parliamentary work over noisy demonstrations. During the 1960s, for example, she criticised Grupp 8. Following her stint as a parliamentarian Lisa Mattson moved back to Gothenburg. She never married and died in 1997.