Rwanda, Sweden join hands to end Gender Based Violence through drama

Mashirika Performing Arts and Media Company has entered a partnership with International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People (ASSITEJ-Sweden), a Swedish-based organisation, to develop a project aimed at fighting gender-based violence through theatre and arts.

Mashirika Performing Arts in Bridge of Roses performance

Hope Azeda, the managing director of Mashirika Performing Arts and Media Company, said they are in partnership with Swedish counterparts to share experiences on different strategies used in fighting GBV, to develop a serial drama project to be presented to the Swedish Institution ‘Si Creative Force’ for funding.

“GBV is a common issue in Rwanda and Sweden. So we are here to share experiences and discuss how we can use our theatre skills to contribute to fighting GBV in our respective countries. We are trying to learn from each other’s experience because we need to draw a similar-oriented serial drama,” said Azeda.

Azeda said that they are consulting different anti-GBV organs; like police and the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion (MIGEPROF), to understand the current situation of GBV in the country, and possible areas that still need more emphasis before developing their serial drama project proposal.

“As a performer, you need to know your audience. So we are now doing a research-based activity to know our focal audience, the right language, facts and the most efficient channel of communication we can use to make sure our drama message is reaching our target audience to create artistic responses to GBV among the communities,” Azeda told The New Times.

Hope Azeda of Mashirika (R) chats with Niclas Malmcrona, the Director of ASSITEJ-Sweden, during the anti-GBV initiative discussions in Kigali this week

Anastasie Nyirabahinde, the Child Promotion and Protection Officer at MIGEPROF, said the partnership in this initiative will come up with additional efforts that would make a vital impact in ending GBV in both countries.

“It is good that they have the will to contribute in fighting gender-based violence. We hope that with their contribution, both countries will benefit from their approaches in protecting the target victims from gender-based violence,” she said.

“We will present to them what our government has done so far, and different focal areas that need more effort while making awareness about the issue,” added Nyirabahinde.

Next year, Rwanda will embark on a five-year anti-GBV strategic plan, running up to 2022, which will bring on board different stakeholders to fight GBV. It was realised that the government alone cannot singlehandedly fight GBV. It requires the interaction of all stakeholders from policy makers, parliamentarians, civil society organisations to development partners to create the necessary awareness and prevention.

Niclas Malmcrona, the director of ASSITEJ-Sweden, said they are in Rwanda to learn the strategies used by the government in fighting GBV so that they can be included in their drama to be addressed to the Swedish community.

Mashirika will also visit Sweden for the same reason to see what Rwanda can learn from Sweden’s GBV fight strategies.

In addition to the above, Mashirika is dedicated to contribute to the country’s policy implementations by developing different theatres, poems and music on unity and reconciliation, fighting genocide ideology, human rights, and tourism promotion, among others.

Most of their theatres are staged before the target communities, while serial dramas are played on radios and televisions.