Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway marked International Women’s Day on Wednesday, 8 March with a visit to Church City Mission prevention project Sister to Sister and a women’s shelter in Trondheim.
The Crown Prince couple began their day at Sister to Sister – a project focused on preventing violence against women in minority communities through raising awareness. The belief behind the project is that women immigrants can play an active role in disseminating information and changing attitudes within their communities and environments.
The Sister to Sister program arms volunteers with the skills needed to provide support within their networks on issues related to forced marriage, domestic violence and genital mutilation. It also gives these women the tools needed to, in turn, provide knowledge and training to their peers in their native language. The Crown Prince and Princess learned about the program’s positive results thus far, both in personal development for the volunteers and larger community impact.
Following their visit to Sister to Sister the couple visited a women’s shelter that helps more than 20,000 women per year. While there they met with women and children who live at the centre. Crown Prince Haakon spoke of the impact of hearing ‘directly from someone who has experienced domestic violence themselves’ and said, ‘it is an extremely difficult and challenging situation to be in. But I did understand that she… gets good help and support through both the legal and the police, and also on the emotional [side] here at the shelter.’
The Crown Princess said: ‘Shelters around the country have done a fantastic job of work with both the police and authorities to ensure that the people being violent prone are better addressed.
‘We have come quite a long way on this. But what we have not managed to do something, it is the violence that is hidden in homes around Norway…It’s something we have to grab and see how we can work with in a much more long-term perspective. I think part of the solution is to go into schools and talk to children about families, both as victims and not. We must make sure that the type of response pattern is not inherited. It is incredibly important, and I think we can find many good solutions to come.’
Estimates suggest that more around 150,000 people are subjected to domestic violence in Norway each year and that 1,000 women in Norway are displaced because of violence.