Crossroads: Women's Rights Through Drama
The AU Protocol is a very important document. However, most people outside of the NGO sector do not know about it. It needs to be popularised so that people know that it exists and how it affects them. Currently, a campaign for its ratification and domestication is being spearheaded by a coalition of more than twenty organisations known as Solidarity for African Women's Rights (SOAWR). Coalition, in which FEMNET and FAHAMU are members. So far, the Protocol has been ratified in about 23 African Countries.
The first planning meeting for the project was co-hosted in Nairobi, Kenya by FAHAMU and FEMNET with the main aim of developing a three year work plan and identifying collaborating partners for the project in pilot regions and countries.The Project seeks to use communication and advocacy as key strategies in promoting human rights and social justice in Africa.
Main Themes in Crossroads
In order to keep the drama focused we chose six key themes to build the storyline around. These themes were chosen in consultation with FEMNET and FAHAMU and reflect some of the central issues facing Kenyan women, especially in peri-urban and rural areas.
Right to peace – Everyone has the right to live in peace. Though often left out of such processes, women also have the right to be present in decision making to prevent conflict, and in peace building initiatives. Women should be seen as agents of change.
Freedom from violence - Violence against women continues to be a pervasive problem on the continent. Violence affects women’s ability to achieve equality, and threatens their freedom, safety, health and autonomy. The drama should encourage governments to enact legislation to protect women, service providers to offer supportive care for victims, communities to take up the issue, and inform individuals where to get help. Violence against women is wrong, and hurts society as a whole.
Marriage and divorce-The Protocol provides that women should have equal rights in marriage, and have equally ability to divorce. Cases of forced and early marriage persist in Africa. The drama should encourage people to keep their children in school, out of wedlock, and demonstrate a culture of mutual respect in marriage. Healthy relationships contribute to everyone’s health and security.
Political participation- Everyone has right to be involved and participate in political issues. Such participation is necessary for a healthy society, and to ensure that women’s issues are represented. The drama should encourage women to participate in decision making.
Right to education- Everyone has the right to education regardless of gender, race, age, or ability. Of particular concern is ensuring girl children stay in school. The drama should encourage parents to keep girls in school for the good of the family and the country.
Reproduction health and HIV- Reproductive health is central to a women’s well-being. People living with HIV have rights, prevention is better than a cure – but for many women prevention is not in their hands. The drama should encourage women to seek out information, it is their right. Service providers must be pro-active in helping to encourage women to access reproductive health information and services.