'Hifazat' Campaign Successfully Concludes Groundbreaking Theatre Performances Across Pakistan
Islamabad, [22-12-2023] – An estimated 30,000 women die each year due to pregnancy related causes in Pakistan. 36% of girls are married before 18, and 10% of girls are married before the age of 15. These alarming statistics emphasize the urgent need to address maternal health and child marriage issues in Pakistan.
In Pakistan, prevailing gender norms contribute to a dire situation where an estimated 30,000 women succumb to pregnancy-related causes annually. Shockingly, 36% of girls are forced into marriage before reaching the age of 18, with an alarming 10% being married off before they even turn 15.
Recognizing the urgent need for transformative action, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and School of Leadership Foundation (SoLF) initiated a behavior change communication campaign in 2022 - titled “Hifazat”, under which a youth-led social media campaign was conducted which reached over 1M individuals.
As an extension, this year, impactful theatre performances were conducted to shed light on the grim realities of reproductive health and child marriage and to challenge ingrained societal beliefs and norms. Through the medium of theatre, the campaign sought to engage communities in a collective dialogue, fostering empathy and understanding.
The Hifazat campaign tackled the Sexual and Reproductive issues in Pakistan through a dual approach: leveraging the reach of social media for nationwide awareness and utilizing live theatre performances for impactful community engagement. With the help of Theatre Wallay, a dedicated group of artists committed to the art of theatre and literature, the 'Hifazat' campaign featured twenty impactful performances. These theatrical presentations took place in Charsadda, Swabi, Swat (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa); Lasbela (Balochistan); Rawalpindi, Multan, and Bahawalpur (Punjab); as well as in Sukkur, Khairpur, and Larkana (Sindh), ensuring a broad and diverse reach across provinces.
The premiere performance in Rawalpindi set the stage for the campaign's success, receiving resounding applause from the audience. Saima Ahmed, a community leader and advocate for youth empowerment, shared, "The performances were an eye-opener, not just for the younger generation but also for our elders. It's time for a paradigm shift in how we address topics like reproductive health and child marriage. The play should be taken to more communities, sparking conversations that challenge outdated norms and foster understanding across generations.”
"The power of theatre lies in its ability to transcend barriers and connect with people on a deeply emotional level. Through these performances, we not only impart knowledge but also ignite conversations that challenge the status quo. It's an important tool for raising awareness and, more importantly, fostering a collective commitment to tackle pressing issues like reproductive health, gender-based violence and child marriage" commented Professor Dr Tahir Mehmood, Director General of Social and Cultural Sciences, Bahauddin Zakariya University Multan.
To foster ongoing dialogue and reflection, post-performance discussions and awareness sessions were conducted. These interactive sessions provided community members with the opportunity to share perspectives, ask questions, and engage in further conversation to deepen their understanding of crucial societal issues.
Abdur Rahman, an enthusiastic attendee at the 'Hifazat' campaign performance, expressed his appreciation for the impactful performances. "The performances were truly commendable; they shed light on topics that our community rarely discussed openly. We needed this initiative to break the silence and raise awareness on crucial matters like reproductive health and gender-based issues. The arts have a unique power to spark meaningful conversations, and these performances did just that.”
The collaborative effort between UNFPA Pakistan and SoLFemphasizes the significance of collective action in addressing societal challenges. By harnessing creative storytelling through theatre, the 'Hifazat' campaign has successfully sparked conversations on vital topics, creating awareness within communities and contributing to positive societal change.
Learn more at @solforgpk (Twitter, Instagram and Facebook)
SoLF is Pakistan’s leading societal development organization that nurtures projects in the areas of Education, Citizenship & Peace, Youth Development, Disaster Management, and Health. It is widely recognized for its breakthrough ideas, creative communication, memorable facilitation, and valuable outcomes.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is the lead UN agency for delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled. UNFPA focuses on advancing women’s and young people’s ability to exercise their reproductive health rights.
Learn more at @unfpapakistan (Twitter, Instagram and Facebook)