"We were unaware of our rights before, but now we know how important it is for us to vote."
(Salih Jah, Kandahar)
Women's performance in Bamiyan.
Success! Our Voter Education & Fraud Mitigation project informed audiences in six provinces about the April 5th Afghan presidential election. Our 6 Afghan theatre troupes (including 3 all-female groups) reached nearly 150,000 people.
The energy of live theatre made a huge impact on audiences, and many changed their minds from skepticism to enthusiasm for the elections. In Kandahar, audiences saying "yes, I will vote" increased by 221% following the performances!
At a girls' high school in Nangarhar.
The secret of the theatre groups' success? The shows are laced with comedy which encourages passers-by to stay and watch. After each show, the audience has the opportunity to join the actors on stage to enact what they would do in a situation.
The campaign focused especially on women and youth to encourage their participation in the election process.
"I thought because I am a woman, my vote does not count. But now I learn that the votes of men and women are equal. This encourages me to vote and motivate other women." - Robina, Kandahar
The Election Project continues!
On June 14th, Afghans return to the polls for the "run-off" election between the top two contenders. Due to our success in reaching difficult regions and scores of women, the United States Institute of Peace requested that we continue our voter education project to promote the run-off.
"I recommend continuing this theatre program because it is very important. There is no electricity outside the city of Kandahar to watch TV and many people don't have radio. Theatre puts undivided focus on a single important issue and makes us take action." - Teacher, Jamal-e Karz Baba School
Read many more quotes and anecdotes from the field on our blog. For more photos, click here.
Women's Prison Program
Herat Women's Prison
We have been awarded a generous grant from Dining for Women to bring creative theatre programs to women in Afghan prisons. Most of the women are imprisoned for violating social and moral codes such as running away from home, escaping an abusive husband, or even being a victim of sexual assault.
In partnership with Simorgh Theatre, we will provide incarcerated women in the Herat Women's Prison, one of the largest women's prisons in Afghanistan, with creative, educational programs that build self-esteem, encourage self-expression, and improve communication and leadership skills. Participants will gain the confidence to manage their lives during incarceration and be better able to re-enter society upon release.
The project begins this fall. This initial phase provides the model for programs to be implemented in women's prisons across Afghanistan as we continue our commitment to theatre for social justice.
Countering Violent Extremism
Bond Street is currently developing programs to address violent extremism using creative practices. We are researching current methods and developing a model program that can be applied to counter violent extremism in Afghanistan and globally. We will keep you updated on the program's progress.