PRESS RELEASE: GIRLS Theatre puts the spotlight on gender discrimination.

24 November, 2017

Empower girls to overcome discrimination and challenge gender stereotypes.

This was the gist of the message by the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement Grow, Inspire, Relate, Lead and Succeed (GIRLS) Theatre Programme after their performance of “Angel’s Gift” today at the ICT Theatre at the University of the South Pacific.

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.

“They are the experts on their own experiences and bring with them unique perspectives but because of gender roles and traditional expectations that are often enforced on GIRLS from birth, it restricts their voices and limits their participation in decision making. This was one of the themes that came out clearly in ‘Angel’s Gift’,” said FWRM’s Executive Director Nalini Singh.

The theatre performance also marks the beginning of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. The 16 Days begin on November 25 with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and girls and ends on Human Rights Day December 10.

“GIRLS are left more vulnerable in situations of violence and exploitation when their views are overlooked. In reality, children face a significant amount of violence. Our recent study, Balancing the Scales: Improving Fijian Women’s Access to Justice Research shows that children are the victims and survivors in 64 percent of sexual offence cases prosecuted by the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions in 2016. GIRLS meaningful participation in decision making will only strengthen our approach to addressing these issues,” said Ms. Singh.

The program consists of 20 GIRLS who conceptualised and developed the production script with guidance from the Moana Loa Performing Arts Group.

“Through the script-writing process, the girls were able to talk about the issues they faced. The theatre performance portrayed the message they wanted to share; to stop discrimination against young girls and allow them the space to voice their opinions. The production helped build their confidence and we can only hope that other young girls would feel empowered to learn more about their rights and express their views,” said GIRLS Programme Officer Lillian Delana.

“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.”

The FWRM’s GIRLS Theatre Programme is supported by the Australian Government and the International Women’s Development Agency (IWDA).