Viran Wedberg-Larsson was a tobacco worker who was active in both her trade union and in politics. She took the initiative to the Stockholm city women’s committee.
Viran Wedberg-Larsson was born in 1899. Her father Frans Albert Wedberg was a cigar-maker and her mother was probably Elisabet Lindholm, who lived with Albert Wedberg and was the mother of a number of children born out of wedlock, including two lots of twins. All the children were given the surname Lindholm upon birth but that was changed eventually to Wedberg. Their father was however registered as unmarried all his life. Another source names Ebon Wedberg as the mother of Viran Wedberg-Larsson.
At the age of 16, Viran Wedberg-Larsson began her working life as a tobacco worker. She followed in her father’s footsteps and made cigars on a machine. This was assembly-line work that she was to spend the next 40 years of her life doing, at the same time as she was involved in union work and eventually became a union leader in the tobacco industry in Stockholm.
To improve herself, Viran Wedberg-Larsson attended a folk high school in Stockholm and later, during the first half of the 1930s, the Nordic Folk High School in Geneva (also called the Geneva School) that was started in 1931. The school’s main target group was young people in unions and political or cooperative popular movements. The school’s languages were Danish, Norwegian and Swedish and they strove to make a contribution to the international work inside and beyond the Nordic countries, for example by bringing about fair and just working conditions.
Viran Wedberg-Larsson also attended the Brunnsvik Folk High School. Her husband-to-be Knut Larsson was also studying in Geneva and at the Brunnsvik Folk High School. He worked in the wood industry and was also involved in union work. The couple probably met during this period. They married in 1935 and had two children.
In due course, Viran Wedberg-Larsson was elected as a member of the board of the tobacco workers’ association and also of the board of the Stockholm workers’ association. During the 1940s, she was sometimes heard on the radio, debating the rationalisation problem, the advantages and disadvantages of equal pay for equal work and a long list of other issues. In one programme, she recounted that she and her husband shared the housework and in another she tried to answer the question: “Are we living in a male-dominated society?”. She described women’s work in industry, later also in a TV programme.
In 1944, Tyrannernas kamp with Gösta Knutsson as programme presenter was broadcast on the radio. In it, members of the Gothenburg and Stockholm city councils competed against each other in an easy-going quiz, among them Viran Wedberg-Larsson, who was then a member of the Stockholm city council for the social democrats. She was also the chairwoman for several women’s clubs and union clubs, among them the Stockholm women cleaners’ union. She struggled for women’s right to work, and went her own way on the kindergarten issue: “During the period that women have the care of small children in their hands, they are happiest when able to remain at home”. She spoke warmly for expanded professional training and economic help to single mothers.
In 1952, Viran Wedberg-Larsson was elected to the executive working committee for the Swedish social democratic women’s association, where she remained for many years. She was a member of the state committee for part-time work for women up until 1966. Viran Wedberg-Larsson was the initiative-taker to the Stockholm city women’s committee that was formed in 1952, a cooperation between different political parties. The committee was an investigative and reference organ with the problems of working women and family questions on its agenda. In 1954, Viran Wedberg-Larsson was again elected to the fourth constituency of the Stockholm city council. In June the same year, she travelled to the USA to study the conditions of the workers in the tobacco industry in the southern states, mainly the women, in assembly-line work, educational demands and well-being in the workplace. She also wanted to investigate how the women managed to combine paid work and housework. The journey was made possible by a union scholarship and after arriving home after three months away, Viran Wedberg-Larsson described her impressions in an article in the major national daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter. For several decades, she was regularly quoted in political articles and meeting reports in the daily press. In 1966, Viran Wedberg-Larsson left her work on the city council and also on the women’s committee. She retired completely from public life.
Viran Wedberg-Larsson died on 2 February 1974 at 74 years of age. Her ashes rest in the Woodland Cemetery in Stockholm.