The Hunger Project- Benin is using an engaging new way to raise awareness of gender issues: theater and community outreach! Trained Hunger Project volunteer animators are using drama performances to engage community members in women’s empowerment issues, including violence against women and the negative effects of child marriage.
The Hunger Project firmly believes that empowering women to be key change agents is an essential element to achieving the end of hunger and poverty. Wherever we work, our programs aim to support women and build their capacity. This means ensuring that women and girls are free from physical harm and are not pressured into early marriage and have the opportunity to live up to their full potential. THP-Benin is working to support equal development for all, which includes guaranteeing that women and girls can make choices about their future without fear of violence.
During the first quarter of 2017, plays were performed at epicenters across the country, garnering huge success. One such example was a play performed at the US Embassy in Cotonou as part of the “Her Choice” program, a global alliance of organizations, including The Hunger Project, working to halt child marriage.
After the performance, a panel discussed the various challenges related to talking about violence against women, including the challenge of identifying perpetrators and the inadequacy of certain laws. They also discussed how theater and drama can be used as a way to influence social change, which is an exciting new means of education in the country.
The theater-based activities have made the difficult conversations more approachable and relatable; they have enabled the women to open-up and share their stories. The hope is that by using alternative learning structures, women can feel safer both inside and outside their homes.