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International Women’s Day

“Sometimes we have to push ourselves to dare to use our voices. But each time we do, we become a bit more complete as a person,” said Her Majesty Queen Sonja, speaking on Friday to a Folketeatret (People's Theatre) filled to capacity.


The Queen took part in the programme hosted by the Norwegian Directorate of Integration and Diversity (IMDI). The event marked International Women’s Day as well as the 100th anniversary of universal suffrage in Norway. Organised by the Norwegian Directorate of Integration and Diversity, the celebration “Use your voice” put a spotlight on encouraging women to let their voices be heard – by means of their vote as well as in the public debate, in their daily lives, and in their commitment to achieve participation and equality.

Use your voice

“There are many ways to use your voice,” said Queen Sonja. “By speaking out at a parents’ meeting, by being brave enough to state an unpopular view, by defending someone in a vulnerable position – and by casting your vote in elections.

Something happens to us when we use our voices: It makes us stand a little taller. It gives us greater confidence and belief in ourselves. It reconfirms our sense of dignity. Sometimes we have to push ourselves to dare to use our voices.

But each time we do, we become a bit more complete as a person.

The aim of the IMDI event was to generate interest and support for the equal rights of women to take active part in society. The arrangement was open to anyone wishing to celebrate International Women’s Day, but women with immigrant backgrounds were especially encouraged to take part. The audience at Folketeatret numbered more than a thousand.

Amtmannens Døtre ( “The District Governor’s Daughters”)

The Queen traced a line back to one of Norway’s pioneers in the battle to emancipate women, Norwegian novelist Camilla Collett.

A hundred and sixty years ago, in her novel “The District Governor’s Daughters”, Camilla Collett wrote about women who were struggling to find their role in society. She describes the lives of women who had to fight to be accepted and to be heard. The women in her novel left their homes, where they had their roots, and went to new places where they were strangers. I think that many of us here today can relate to this directly ...

Gala performance

Hannah Wozene Kvam compèred the programme, which included music from the performing arts collective Queendom and dance performances by Navid Rezvani and Francesca Golfetto as well as Kari Helene Østby. Minister of Culture Hadia Tajik gave the event’s second address, and a conversation between four active women was heard. Evelyn Rasmussen Osazuwa performed a monologue about the thought processes of a fictitious stay-at-home voter, and the event concluded with a performance by the Nosizwe Baqwa band.

After the performance, Queen Sonja met privately with six women with immigrant backgrounds.

Queen Sonja's speech at International Women’s Day (in Norwegian only) (Photo: NRK)

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