Women in History -29 July

Katarina Taikon-Langhammer (29 July 1932– 30 December 1995) was a Swedish Romany activist, leader in the civil rights movement, writer and actor. She was the sister of Rosa Taikon.

During Taikon’s childhood Romani still lived in camps in Sweden, and had to move often, which made it hard for the children to get any school education. Taikon didn’t learn how to read and write until she was in her teens.

Taikon dedicated her life to improving conditions for Romani people in Sweden and throughout the world. Through her tireless work, debating, writing and talking to Swedish authorities, the Romani were granted the same right to housing and education as all other Swedes.

Taikon tried to convince Swedish authorities that these people were in fact political refugees, since they had been oppressed in their countries. After fruitless efforts to help a group of 47 French Romani gain asylum in Sweden, she decided to change her strategy.

So she started to write her popular series of children’s books about her own childhood, Katitzi (in 1979 a TV-series based on the books was produced.)

Katarina Taikon died of brain damage after falling into a 13-year long coma, following a cardiac arrest. She has been called the Martin Luther King of Sweden.