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Masai leaders engage their Communities in a dialogue about gender violence

For more than 3 years UZIKWASA has been supporting five partner organizations from across Tanzania in applying reflective leadership development approaches to their own operations and program implementation.

Among UZIKWASA’s long-term partners is SHALOM, an NGO based in Arumeru district in Arusha region. Shalom works predominantly with Masai villages including Loovilukuny village

In November  2021 leaders of Loovilukuny NPA-VAWC committee were facilitated to identify critical issues related to gender violence and violence against children in their communities and which  they felt needed to be addressed by their village VAWC action plan.  These leaders were facilitated by the SHALOM and UZIKWASA team in using role plays as a tool to support the reflection process and to easily identify drivers of violence in their village.  These role plays were then performed in a public area allowing other community members to enjoy the show and contribute their own views.

As per the NPA-VAWC directory, NPA committees normally consist of representatives from almost every group in the particular community including religious leaders, government officials, and even prominent and respected members of the community like the ‘Laigwanans’ who are respected traditional Masai leaders. With this heavy weight cast the role plays turned into an all-star theatre show. In their captivating performance, these amazing leaders turned into convincing actors as they portrayed different forms of GBV, VAC, and IPV which they felt hinder gender equality and the wellbeing of their children. These include early forced marriages, women’s exclusion from community resources, child abuse, and FGM.

For the hundreds of people who were watching, the performances not only mirrored local realities around GBV, but they also were a great opportunity for members of the community to actively participate in discussions with the actors while the play was performed.

“Today was my first time doing something like that.  I never thought of myself acting but I feel good because this is a unique way of letting people engage in the fight against violence against women and child abuse and making them feel that it concerns them too” –Laigwanani aged 60-65 years old.