‘The Divine Order’ Follows The Real-Life Battle Of Swiss Women Fighting For The Right To Vote

We’re living at a time where women are speaking out about women’s rights in light of the political landscape, where certain political parties and leaders are trying to take us back to a time when we weren’t considered equal. It’s crazy to think that in 2017, the global women’s movement, most notably highlighted during the Women’s March which took place in multiple cities across the US the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, is still having to go to the front lines for issues that were fought for decades ago.

These include birth control and other important types of reproductive healthcare. While there has certainly been major made progress in many areas, we are still far from equal. Feminism is also at a place where some are even denying the need for such a movement, claiming it is no longer relevant. Feminist author Lindy West outlined this phenomenon brilliantly in her New York Times piece reminding anti-feminists that their ability to even speak publicly about their disdain for the movement has been made possibly by feminists in the first place.

“Whether you like us or not, we carved out this space for you,” she reminds them.

Perhaps there is no greater reminder of how far we’ve come than looking at history. Watching films like 2015’s ‘Suffragette’, following the movement galvanized by activist Emmeline Pankhurst in the UK, reminded many that the right to vote was not an easy one to win. Although it seems like a baseline right that many women already have today, let’s not forget that women in Saudi Arabia were only permitted to do this by law for the first time in 2015.

Now another film is taking us back to the 1970s and a women’s rights struggle in another country. ‘The Divine Order’ is set in Switzerland and shows what women had to do in order to be given the right to vote. It is Switzerland’s submission for the Academy Awards’ Best Foreign Language Film category, and has already been picking up awards at the Traverse City Film Festival and Tribeca Film Festival.

It is set in a small Swiss village in 1971 where, despite the worldwide social upheavals of the previous decade, women were still denied the right to vote. When unassuming and dutiful housewife Nora (Marie Leuenberger, winner of a Best Actress award at Tribeca) is forbidden by her husband to take a part-time job, her frustration leads to her becoming the poster child of her town’s suffragette movement. Her newfound celebrity brings humiliation, threats, and the potential end to her marriage, but, refusing to back down, she convinces the women in her village to go on strike…and makes a few startling discoveries about her own liberation.

Uplifting and crowd-pleasing, this charming, captivating film is a time-capsule that could not be more timely. ‘The Divine Order’ opens in Los Angeles November 17 and director Petra Volpe has been traveling the country for press and screenings. We were lucky enough to speak with her about women’s rights in Switzerland, the importance of political equality, and why she chose to make this film.

What made you want to make a film about women’s liberation in Switzerland?

The film is a tribute to all the women who fought so hard for over 100 years to get this basic democratic right. I did not learn in school about their hard struggle, which is so typical for women’s history, and it was time to bring it to the big screen and by looking back in history also pointing at all the things that still need to be done to achieve equality.

We’re living in a current time of great political upheaval right now. How do you hope looking back into recent history, especially with regard to women’s rights, will determine where we go in the future?

I wanted to make a film that encourages women to stand up and fight, to have civil courage. The women in the past have achieved great things for us and we must keep on demanding and persisting. The struggle obviously is far from being over.

Trogen, Appenzell, Schweiz, 23. Maerz 2016 – Die goettliche Ordnung, Standbild Film Szene 73.

What do you hope especially younger female audiences will learn from seeing what the Swiss suffragettes had to go through?

I hope they feel inspired! Inspired to be fighters for equality and justice, to find power in solidarity, but also be inspired to love their bodies and gain strength from self-confidence.

How has the film been received by audiences in Switzerland so far?

It is a big box office hit – the film was the ‘Wonder Woman’ of Switzerland, only our heroines are not goddesses but just a bunch of housewives who spark a fire and rise up against an oppressive, sexist system.

Trogen, Appenzell, Schweiz, 23. Maerz 2016 – Die goettliche Ordnung, Standbild Film Szene 73.

The main character Nora goes through such a transformation from a timid housewife to an activist bringing about change by raising her voice. How do you hope women today will relate to and be inspired by her journey?

Every woman can be a “Nora”! Political and social process can be set into motion by just one courageous person – this was true in the past, and is true today.

Why is the right to vote such an integral part of an individual’s freedom?

Voting is very important – and I want to encourage especially young people to make use of that right. People, not only women, have fought very hard to get that right – because in a Democracy you take part in shaping laws and the society you live in. But if we get lazy and feel like it’s not important then that opens doors to anti-democratic political system. Sometimes you only know the value of something when you loose it. We should all work very hard not to loose it!


‘The Divine Order’ opens in Los Angeles November 17, and to find more screenings, follow the film’s Facebook Page, or check the Zeitgeist Films website for updates.

Trogen, Appenzell, Schweiz, 30. Maerz 2016 – Die goettliche Ordnung, Standbild Film Szene 66, 78 und 105.



One Comment

  1. Our ignorance of one another’s condition is remarkable. I had no idea such conditions existed in the 70’s. This looks like an excellent film and we hope to review it soon.

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