Wednesday, March 08, 2017
On the occasion of International Women’s Day, we celebrate the achievements of women and girls around the world, and are reminded of the challenges that lie ahead on issues ranging from domestic and gender-based violence, to girls’ education, to voting rights for all, to social justice, to safe self-expression. Today, we highlight a selection of projects created in collaboration with our partners around the world devoted to women’s rights.
As a part of the 2010-2012 Theatre for Social Development project in Afghanistan, we worked with four Afghan theatre companies, and created four new all-women’s theatre troupes as part of the project. For the first time, the troupes were able to reach women directly, performing in homes, girl’s schools, and women’s shuras. The photos above and right below were taken as part of a 2011 workshop conducted by Bond Street Theatre and Simorgh Theatre of Herat.
Malia, one of the workshop participants, shared: ”When I came to the workshop, I was really shy to even move, but now I really feel free to speak aloud and talk to audiences”.
Manizha, another participant, reflects on the importance of women’s unity: “What I learned by performing in so many different places is that most of the women have no good relationship with others and with society. They are fighting with each other! If we stand up together, we can solve this problem. This is the most important and useful thing for myself”.
From 2014-2016, BST’s Youth-Led Community Engagement Project brought together 375 youth from 25 Afghan provinces for arts-based leadership and communication training. One of them, the Women’s Group of the Volunteer Youth of Kunar, chose to implement a project focused on ending violence against women. The participants conducted sessions and workshops with women, and met one-on-one with families to discuss the vital importance of education.
In Guatemala, we initiated The Acting for Peace project, which implemented theatre programs for at-risk women and youth living in rural areas, and workshops with young women aged 10 to 17 in collaboration with Oasis Orphanage.
As a task for one of the workshops, girls had to come up with short pieces to perform. In this picture, captured in 2012, the girls present the following story of unity: “There is one tree in the forest that stands alone. It is proud of itself, thinking it the strongest and best tree around. One day, a woodcutter comes along and cuts it down easily. Then the woodcutter goes to a grove nearby, where all the trees have grown together. He tries and he tries to cut the trees down, but he can't - the trees are united”.
In these pictures captured in 2007 in India, BST staff and Indian women collaborate on workshops, later to be turned to a play to be presented to a wider audience. As part of our time in India, BST was fortunate enough to work with the famed Patachitra painter-storytellers of West Bengal, a primarily female group dedicated to storytelling across mediums. Recalling a BST stilt-walking workshop, Nurjahan recalls: “At first I was “Ohhhh, I don’t want to go on stilts,” but now I know once I go for it, after that, I don’t have any apprehension at all”.
Working in Haiti in 2012, BST collaborated with women’s group FAVILEK (Women Victims Get Up, Stand Up), survivors of politically motivated violence. The original show created by the women, Fanm Yo Di Ase!, was a powerful testament to the resilience of women, and a call to action. In the words of Marie of Haiti, “They fight violence. It takes courage and valor. Replace violence with love!”
As we work towards creating a more equitable world for all women, Bond Street is grateful for the women and allies that we have met and worked with around the world, crossing lines of citizenship, age, disability, and sexuality, but sharing a common core of courage and creativity.