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Signe Höjer (1896–1988)

Author of Mary Kingsley : forskningsresande i Västafrika : [en biografi]

Includes the names: Signe Hojer, Signe Höjer

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Signe Höjer, née Dahl, was born in Malmö, Sweden, to a wealthy family. She achieved high grades at school, but her parents did not allow her to study at university. Instead, she became a nurse. In 1919, she went to London to learn more about social work. On that trip, she made a brief visit to Paris, where she met her future husband, Axel Höjer, a physician. She studied pediatric care in Paris and took some courses at the London School of Economics before returning to Sweden. The couple married, settled in Solna, and had four children. Signe became a child welfare officer while also working as a nurse in her husband's medical practice. The couple also collaborated in the creation of an infant's clinic inspired by those they had seen in London, which later was a model for Swedish child welfare centers. In 1926, the family moved to Lund, where Signe joined the city's Social Democratic Party (SAP) Women's Club and took part in the peace movement. During the late 1920s and early 1930s, she became nationally famous for her activities with the SAP and the International Women's Federation for Peace and Freedom (IKFF). In 1935, when her husband was appointed Director General of the Danish Medicines Agency, the family moved to Stockholm. Signe served as chairman of the Swedish IKFF and was elected to the Stockholm City Council. She participated in the government's design of a new, more family-centered social welfare policy in which universal health care was pre-eminent. In the 1950s, after decades of reform work in Sweden, Signe Höjer and her husband began to engage in full-time international development work, mainly in the former British colonies of India and Ghana. In her 60s, she began to write articles and books, including a series of documentary and popular histories on topics such as slavery, leprosy and gender roles. The couple returned to Sweden in the 1960s, and she continued her international activities, engaging in the campaign "Sweden Helps" and serving on the board of Save the Children. She wrote her best selling book, a biography of the British explorer Mary Kingsley. After her husband's death, she began writing her own and her family's history in a series of eight books published between 1976 and 1988.
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