Elisabet Holm was a Moderat (Moderate) party local authority and regional politician. In 1979 she was appointed cabinet minister.
Elisabet Holm was born in Karlstad in 1917. She was the daughter of Adolf Larsson, a merchant, and his wife Marie Louise Larsson, a nurse. She gained her school-leaving certificate in 1937 and trained as a nurse at the Red Cross nursing school. She graduated in 1942 and then worked as a nurse at various places including Söder hospital in Stockholm.
In 1943 Elisabet Holm married the doctor Nils Holm. They settled in Karlskoga and had three daughters together. Elisabet Holm began to work as a hospital librarian in Karlskoga, as well as taking on holiday cover at her husband’s surgery. Her political involvement began at the end of the 1950s when she took on political roles in both local authority and county council level at the same time. In 1962 she became a representative of Karlskoga town council. That same year she also became a representative for Örebro county council. She remained a county council representative until 1986, apart from her period as cabinet minister.
Elisabet Holm was a member of the local Karlskoga planning authority, a move which was very remarkable for a woman at that time. In 1976 opposition roles were introduced in Karlskoga municipality and the county council. Elisabet Holm became an opposition councillor on the county council part-time whilst working quarter-time as a member of the municipal board. She was active in and a driving force of environmental- and women’s issues.
After the 1979 election Elisabet Holm was appointed as a cabinet minister in Torbjörn Fälldin’s government, with health-care as her brief. High on her agenda were matters related to regional health care, including coordination between national and regional health care. There were six health-care regions and Elisabet Holm facilitated the possibility that one health-care region could have two regional hospitals. Matters of disability, within which she also played a major role, also came under her remit and she supported the issue of text telephones for those with hearing difficulties. In 1980 she set up a committee to examine how psychiatric care for children and young people and municipal family services could be coordinated with closely related agencies, such as welfare and social care agencies. She believed that due to the rising alcohol and drug misuse, increasing numbers of suicides, divorces and abortions, there was a great need for joined up resources for personal advice and support when dealing with crisis situations. She was also very much involved in matters surrounding circumcision, a practise to which she was heavily opposed, and expressed her opposition in a discussion in 1979. She promised that the government would actively work towards a decision to ban female circumcision to be implemented through international organisations. This came to pass and a working group was set up within the welfare department including representatives of related departments and authorities. Elisabet Holm remained a part of the government until it resigned and was replaced by a Folk-party government. Following the 1982 election she became a fulltime opposition councillor for the county council.
Elisabet Holm devoted much of her energy toward Moderata kvinnoförbundet (the Moderate party women’s association). She was the chair of Högerns kvinnoförening (right-wing party women’s association) in Karlskoga from 1960–1972. She was also a member of the party board from 1969–1982. She was elected as the second chair of the women’s association at the Moderata kvinnoförbundet national meeting in 1972. This national meeting was the first held with elected representatives. Britt Mogård was elected as the new chair of the association and Ingegerd Troedsson became the first deputy chair. Britt Mogård’s leadership produced a forceful, dedicated, and very active political association which campaigned for equality.
In the early 1970s Moderata kvinnoförbundet came up with an energy policy programme under Elisabet Holm’s leadership – and her efforts also advanced the party’s involvement as a whole in that matter. The 1976 election led to the establishment of a conservative government. Moderata kvinnoförbundet was sorely disappointed that so few female Moderate party politicians had been elected into parliament. Britt Mogård then came up with the idea of setting up a leadership training course for strongly motivated female members of the party. Aktion MKF was then established and is still current.
In 1982 Elisabet Holm was appointed as a special investigator into the 1968 prevention of communicable disease act and its limitations. The AIDS epidemic came to form a lot of her work within this sphere. She presented the committee’s conclusions in 1985, SOU 1985:37. The proposal for a new prevention of communicable disease act was intended to include diseases such as AIDS. The first AIDS case was diagnosed in 1982 and the number of cases rose rapidly. Elisabet Holm suggested, as part of the committee’s conclusions, that venereal diseases should no longer be separately regulated. She suggested three criteria by which a disease could be judged a danger to all, and that all three should be present simultaneously. She determined that AIDS fulfilled all three criteria. She also suggested that county councils should be responsible for prevention of communicable disease and that this should be led by communicable disease prevention doctors. They were to be responsible for notification of any communicable diseases, and medical investigations and hospital quarantine should be implemented even against the patient’s wishes. She also ensured that investigations, care, and necessary treatment from a preventative perspective should be free of charge for the patient and that the quarantine system should be coordinated with the new disease control organisation.
Following her time as a cabinet minister Elisabet Holm returned to the county council and served as opposition councillor until she turned 67. She was very active as a group leader and speaker in Sveriges Pensionärsförbund (SPF) (Swedish pensioners’ association) and at Medborgarskolan (citizens’ school). She also authored study material for the humanities and social studies.
Elisabet Holm suffered from cancer and died in 1977. She is buried at Skogskyrkogården in Karlskoga.