Norway: World women gathering to explore freedom of expression


On 30-31 January 2015, an unusual gathering of world women will unfold over two days of conversations and performances at Riksscenen in Oslo, Norway. The summit is organised by artist and activist Deeyah Khan.

‘World Woman’ is “a convening of courageous and creative women who are defenders of freedom of expression, campaigners for gender equality, peace, justice and human rights.” The 50 speakers are “trouble-makers and peace-makers, activists and artists, doers, thinkers and revolutionaries,” according to the programme.

Among them are theatre director Natalia Kaliada from Belarus, playwright Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti from the UK, visual artists Mihret Kebede from Ethiopia and María María Acha-Kutscher from Perú, writer Mona Eltahawy from Egypt/USA and Nobel Laureate and writer Shirin Ebadi from Iran, dancers Sheema Kermani from Pakistan and Héla Fattoumi from Tunisia/France, singers and musicians Mahsa Vahdat from Iran, Kamilya Jubran from Palestine/France, Mari Boine from Norway and Sister Fa from Senegal, and almost 40 more.


‘World Women’ is supported by the Norwegian government, the Norwegian Arts Council and Fritt Ord, in partnership with a wide range of organisations, among which are Safemuse and Freemuse.

“The participants are activists and artists who have found the compassion and strength to speak about the needs and reality of people who are suffering. Sometimes risking their own lives and livelihoods in the defence of individual freedom and equality, they give voice to the marginalised, the excluded, the silenced.

This gathering is a gesture of solidarity with these remarkable women, and a tribute to their bravery and their achievements. It is an opportunity to hear their stories, to experience their artistic expression and to develop dialogue across cultures and disciplines in order to strengthen our own voices and protect theirs.”


“As a girl, I abandoned a promising singing career due to violent harassment by Islamists. Since then, over twenty years later as a film-maker and activist, I am a passionate advocate for the freedom of expression, even when this challenges ideas and images that are held to be sacrosanct. The carnage in Paris should not be seen in isolation. Although for the assailants themselves, and for many of those responding, this was seen as part of an epochal battle between the East and the West, I saw it as the continuation of a long-running terrorist campaign to silence any opposition or critique of the religious right.”

“From the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo, to the liberal writings of Raif Badawi, grotesquely condemned to a thousand lashes by order of the Saudi State for the crime of setting up a liberal blog, there can be no equivocation on freedom of expression, whoever threatens it, and whatever their justification.”
Deeyah Khan

» The Guardian – 25 January 2015:
Violence is the real provocation, not speech


» Read more about ‘World Woman’ on

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