Barbro Jansson was the first female commissioner of Gothenburg municipal council. She campaigned on issues of equal opportunities and expansion in childcare, amongst other things.
Barbro Jansson graduated from Sigrid Rudebeck high school in 1942. The following year she married Olle Jansson, a civil engineer and a politician of the Social Democratic party. They had four children together and Barbro Jansson spent ten years being a housewife. She then returned to studying and in 1963 she qualified with a major in psychology. She began working for the Gothenburg city offices and became the head actuary of the Gothenburg office of statistics.
Gothenburg city council established the Beredning för familj och yrkesverksamhet (commission for families and professions) in 1964. This came about because the number of gainfully employed women in Gothenburg was lower than in Stockholm and Malmö and the commission was tasked with investigating ways to facilitate the entry of married women into the professional sphere. Barbro Jansson provided assistance to the commission as necessary within the spheres of welfare and statistical expertise.
The investigation concluded in 1968 and Barbro Jansson presented her own list of 14 proposals for reforms. These included that children above the age of three should be sent to “children’s institutions” staffed by qualified personnel, whose training would be publicly funded, and that everyone in good health should be responsible for their own income. To modern ears her proposals seem rather uncontroversial and many of them – such as expanded childcare – have been implemented. However, when they were first published they initiated a furious debate and Barbro Jansson was subjected to serious personal attacks. The headline ‘Göteborgska överträffar Mao’ (Gothenburg-woman surpasses Mao) is just one example. At the time that she presented her proposals she was apolitical but she later became an active supporter of the Social Democratic party.
In 1970 Barbro Jansson was elected onto the municipal council. She was appointed chair of the Gothenburg city equal opportunities commission in 1975 and two years later she was the first woman to be appointed municipal commissioner. She spent a total of twelve years on the municipal council, largely working on issues of equal opportunities, childcare, culture, and education.
Barbro Jansson supported the establishment of Kvinnofolkhögskolan (the women’s adult college) in Gothenburg. She was a member of the college board and its trust. She herself had attended Kvinnliga medborgarskolan (the female citizens' school) at Fogelstad from 1954–1954 and had been a member of Fogelstadförbundet (the Fogelstad association).
In the raging discussion regarding Gothenburg city theatre in 1981 Barbro Jansson was one of those who defended the so-called Manifest and when the major peace demonstration was held in Gothenburg on 15 May 1982 she was supportive of it.
Barbro Jansson died in 2008. She is buried at the Västra cemetery in Gothenburg.