According to Natasha Webster from Stockholm University, who studies Thai migrants in Sweden, the stereotype of Thai internet brides passively trailing their Swedish husbands could not be further from the truth.
They’re really an active migrant group. Six percent of Thai women in Sweden are business owners. For Sweden, that’s quite high. It’s on par with native women, but we suspect the number is actually higher. And also in terms of employment, Thai women are very highly employed.”
At the Sundsvall Thai Festival, there are more than 50 stalls selling Thai food, handicrafts, clothes, and more to the estimated 25,000 visitors. Most of the stalls are run by Thai woman entrepreneurs and their Swedish partners.
There is also a football tournament for the children of Thai immigrants and their partners, and a stage where popstars flown over from Thailand belt out their latest hits.
We speak to factory worker and gourmet cook Ririntorn Jirathanaset, tomato grower and takeaway owner Araya Vestlund, and others about what gives Thai women their drive to earn.