GIRLS raise awareness on their issues through theatre
GIRLS lived realities and issues such as bullying and neglect were highlighted in theatre art performances showcased at the University of the South Pacific today.
The theatre performance, “This is me,” was organised by FWRM’s Grow, Inspire, Relate, Lead and Succeed (GIRLS) Theatre programme and supported by the Australian Government through the International Women’s Development Agency (IWDA).
The three-year GIRLS Theatre Programme is targeted at girls aged between 10 to 12. The program uses innovative approaches like rugby and theatre arts to provide a creative, healthy and safe space for GIRLS to express their issues and concerns.
“Theatre provides the GIRLS with an opportunity to express themselves and tell their own stories from their own context and experiences. It’s an essential space to empower GIRLS but it’s incredibly important for the audience, the parents and the adults to hear what they have to say and how they perceive the issues they face,” said FWRM Executive Director Nalini Singh.
With guidance from the Moana Loa Performing Arts Group, the GIRLS were able to develop their own script to highlight several themes including bullying, body-image issues and parental neglect. The theatre performance includes all 17 GIRLS participants as the acting and singing talents.
“It’s disheartening to hear about girls realities today and the significant amount of violence they continue to face. Sexual violence against girls and women is prevalent and the age of victims and survivors continue to decrease,” said Ms. Singh.
In all 94 cases of rape decided by the high courts in 2018, the victims/survivors were female with the youngest being a 6-month-old baby and the oldest victim/survivor, a 71-year-old woman. The average age of the accused was at 39 years old and the average age of victims/survivors at 14 years old. (FWRM’s Sexual Violence Against Women and Girls Rape Case Analysis 2018)
“There needs to be a shift in attitudes towards women and girls, as equal contributing members of society if we want positive social change and a safer more prosperous society for everyone. The GIRLS are leading their change by telling their stories and breaking the cultural barriers of silence,” said Ms. Singh.
“I enjoyed putting this play together with the rest of my friends in the GIRLS programme. It was fun and at the same time a learning experience. We hope our message on bullying is received well as we also identified reasons to why this happens in our production,” said Martha Samuela (12 years old) GIRLS Theatre member.
“The GIRLS have raised similar issues throughout the programme in different sessions, particularly bullying, neglect from home and domestic violence that they face in their communities. The production helped build their confidence and we can only hope that other young girls and children who were in the audience would feel empowered to learn more about their rights and express their views,” said GIRLS Programme Officer, Emeli Anise.
“We’d like to acknowledge the GIRLS parents and family for their continued support of the program and everyone who turned out today to view the performance. We’d also like to thank Moana Loa for their expertise and helping the GIRLS put this together.”