Women’s rights highlighted in UN-backed street-theatre series

8 Dec 2016

Women’s rights highlighted in UN-backed street-theatre series

KANDAHAR - The importance of the rights of Afghan women and girls was the central theme of a series of UN-backed street-theatre performances in the southern province of Kandahar this week.

Part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign, actors from the Kandahar Film and Theatre Film group put on five live street theatre performances in Kandahar city and adjoining districts during the past several weeks. Each performance, supported by the regional office of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), was followed by a lively audience discussion.

The actors also recorded a radio drama – based on the play – that was broadcast via local radio to an audience estimated at 300,000.

The performances chronicled the travails of an Afghan girl, Naghma – and her mother – following the death of Naghma’s father. The two move in with a relative, but Naghma is forced to drop out of school to work, and her mother is subjected to violence.

Later in the play, Naghma’s former teacher intervenes, with the result that Naghma is able to resume her education, and the abuse faced by her mother comes to an end.

Anis Ahmad, a member of the audience at one of the street performances, said there is an unfortunately common attitude in the community that girls should not attend school. The theatre performance made it clear, he said, that education for girls is a positive activity and that communities should support it.

In the southern region of Afghanistan, as in other areas of the country, Afghan women and girls continue to face many challenges, including domestic violence and early marriage, among others. In addition, under-representation of Afghan women in government and social life continues to be a notable issue.

The 16 Days campaign – which runs each year between the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25 November) and Human Rights Day (10 December) – is a time to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world.

UNAMA is mandated to support the Afghan Government and the people of Afghanistan as a political mission that provides 'good offices' among other key services. 'Good offices' are diplomatic steps UN takes publicly and in private, drawing on its independence, impartiality and integrity, to prevent international disputes from arising, escalating or spreading.

UNAMA also promotes coherent development support by the international community; assists the process of peace and reconciliation; monitors and promotes human rights and the protection of civilians in armed conflict; promotes good governance; and encourages regional cooperation.