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The Community Arts Festival “Nawah for Change,” concluded its fourth round on December 16 with Zad Art Team, in a ceremony attended by General Ismail El Far, Director of the Central Administration for Training and Projects, on behalf of Dr. Ashraf Sobhy, the Minister of Youth and Sports, UNFPA Reproductive Health Specialist Nada Naja, as well as Mr. Tobias Krause, Deputy Head of the European Union Delegation in Egypt, and representatives from the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, the Canadian Embassy, and Etijah Youth and Development Consultancy Institute.

The festival kicked off on November 21 and ran until December 16 with performances in Qena and Minya, and Cairo in order to reach a wider segment of audiences, with the support of UNFPA, the European Union in Egypt, the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, the Canadian Embassy and the Norwegian Embassy. 

The festival hosted performances by theatre groups from Luxor, Damietta, Red Sea, Assiut, Minya, Beni Suef, Cairo, Suez, Giza, Sharqeya, Kafr al-Sheikh, Menufiya and Fayoum – tackling different population issues such as family planning, FGM and child marriage – as well as musical performances by the Shamandoura group.

For the first time, applications were open for independent theatre troupes to take part in the fourth round of the festival, alongside the Nawah teams. 

The performances were evaluated by a committee of experts, which assed how they addressed a community issue, interacted with the audience along with the artistic aspects of the performance.

The closing of the festival comes as part of activities commemorating the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. UNFPA, the EU, the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, the Canadian Embassy, the Norwegian Embassy are committed to combating violence against women by engaging communities, especially young people through different activities.

With the support of an EU-grant of €27 Million, the EU Support to Egypt’s National Population Strategy is engaging young people and people in reproductive age to increase the use of voluntary, rights-based family planning. 

The closing performance, “Another Life,” depicted different forms of violence including domestic violence, sexual harassment and FGM. The young protagonists imagined a world free from all these forms of violence.

“Packaging population issues in these entertaining and powerful performances by young volunteers ensure that messages resonate within communities,” UNFPA Representative in Egypt Frederika Meijer said, “Let us rely on youth to lead the way to the achievement of the 2030 agenda.”

“The EU, in partnership with UNFPA, proudly supports Egypt’s quest to balance demographic growth with available natural resources, thus meeting the aspirations of the public for a better future,” Krause said.

“It was very enlightening for me to see, first hand, the Community Arts Festival held in the Governorate of Qena,” H.E Louis Dumas, Ambassador of Canada to Egypt, said. “Edutainment created by the youth, implemented by the youth and for the youth in rural communities is the best way to have on impact on key development challenges such as population issues.”

“This is the kind of initiatives that will bring about positive and lasting change, and ultimately end violence against women and girls,” said Norway’s Ambassador Hilde Klemetsdal, “Norway is committed to continue our strong support to end violence, both globally and in Egypt.”

“We express our warmest thanks to the group of youngsters that came to Cairo from all over Egypt to share their own stories and views on family life and gender-based violence, and to show us how to innovatively challenge gender stereotypes” stated Dr. Martino Melli, Head of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation in Cairo. And continued, “We are truly proud to support such activities as a concrete action of activism in these 16 days to raise awareness on violence against women”.

The Nawah and Shamandoura teams are part of UNFPA’s population awareness project, in partnership with the Ministry of Youth and Sports and Etijah.

Population Awareness Clubs operate in different Youth Centers around the country, where they host awareness activities around population issues for young people using innovative tools, including music, interactive theatre and short films. The activities aim to raise awareness around gender-based violence, family planning, and harmful practices.

The Nawah performances are a result of workshops conducted with the help of Zad Art Team, who coached volunteers on developing theatrical scripts and songs to raise the awareness of their communities on various issues including female genital mutilation, family planning and gender-based violence.

Seventeen theatre groups were formed in Population Awareness Clubs in 17 governorates around Egypt.

The festival also sheds light on the role that community theater plays in development and the effect of arts on behavioral change. It also allows young people to contribute to confronting challenges faced by their communities.