100 Women We Love: Class Of 2018

Each one of these women, in her own unique way, is a role model who exemplifies the best of the LGBTQ community.

Maria Sjödin

Photo by Mikael Bjork Blomqvist

More than 70 countries still criminalize same-sex relationships, but Maria Sjödin is working to end that discrimination — and change the world. As deputy executive director of OutRight Action International, the organization fighting for LGBTQ human rights around the world, Sjödin leads the fundraising and communications departments. Under her tutelage, OutRight’s Individual Donor Program has doubled its revenue, and the organization has hosted international events that highlight the work of activists. “I get to work with amazing, courageous activists and colleagues who won’t settle, and who stand up for their rights every day, sometimes in extremely hostile environments,” Sjödin says. “The rights we have in the U.S. and in my native Sweden today came about because some people refused to accept the discrimination that they faced and fought to make the world more open and more accepting. This is now happening everywhere in the world and being part of this global movement is incredibly inspiring.” Prior to her work with OutRight, Sjödin served as Executive Director of Sweden’s largest and oldest LGBTQ organization, RFSL, where the budget and staff tripled under her leadership. She has also led human rights and leadership trainings for hundreds of LGBTQ activists worldwide. “Many of us live lives today that would have been impossible just a couple of decades ago,” Sjödin says about what drives her. “We owe a lot to the generations of activists before us that pushed for change. I personally feel it is my job to pay it forward.” —SEJ

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