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Young people use theatre to change social norms at Population Awareness Clubs

The Population Awareness Clubs (PACs) continue to host different activities to raise the awareness of young people around population issues, using different tools that include peer education, music, interactive theatre, sports and painting.

Harnessing the power of interactive theater to change social norms and with the support of the European Union, the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation and UNFPA, a group of volunteers from PACs in different governorates made the best out of the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and unleashed their creativity.

With the help of Zad Art team, the volunteers developed new theatrical scripts through webinars to raise the awareness of their community members on various issues including Femal Genital Mutilation (FGM), family planning and the concept of a small family size. The teams are currently preparing for a tour of their performances within their governorates in the different PACs.

Population Awareness Clubs operate in different Youth Centers around the country. They host different awareness activities around population issues for young people using different tools.

The volunteers improvised creative scenarios to make their performances more attractive to audiences. For example, a performance in Suez tackled the concept of small family size and family planning through a TV show-like competition. In Minya, the performance featured a girl who is being forced into a marriage by her parents. She resorts to Facebook, asking for solutions to her problem. The responses she receives will reflect other similar stories of girls like her and the different scenarios ahead of her.

The volunteers in Sohag adopted the traditions of “al-Mawlid” celebration to tackle harmful practices while in Fayoum volunteers came up with a catchy story involving demons and a parallel world. In a creative way, they presented the negative impact of a big family on not only the parents’ health but also the children.

On the other hand, Beni Seuf team used history of the pharaohs to deliver message demonstrating that many of the harmful practices, including FGM and child marriage, have no health or religious basis, but are merely based on traditions and habits.

With the support of the European Union, another group of volunteers in PACs from Aswan completed a new interactive theater performance called "Waksa" (Failure), which aims to raise awareness around family planning and the concept of the small family size. The youth used symbolism to present the impact of blindly following traditions and not planning their families in terms of the number and spacing between births. The performance also shed light on the pigeonholing of women in terms of limiting their role to giving birth and working at home.

These activities are implemented as part of the “Raising Awareness on Population Issues” project, implemented by the Ministry of Youth and Sports in cooperation with Etijah NGO.

The project aims at raising the awareness of community members around sexual and reproductive health and family planning.

Paving the way for establishing new PACs, with the support of the Canadian Embassy in Egypt and UNFPA, the Ministry of Youth and Sports and Etijah NGO concluded the assessment visits of potential youth centers in 15 governorates. With these 100 new centers, the number of PACs reached 190.

By the end of 2020, there is set to be 190 PACs operating in 21 governorates.