“We are working with children and young men in remote villages where litteracy is very low. The posters help explain our message through pictures – and the children love them, so they learn very quickly”, says Serrajudin Joya, Human Rights and Gender Manager at SCA.
Nine groups of boys activists and three groups of young religious scholars have been mobilised by SCA. The boys are school students and they were reqruited because of their interest in gender issues.
“Women in Afghanistan also have a right to be part of society. Women are affected by violence and discrimination and this has to stop”, says Helahuddin Ibrahimi, 18 years old and a member of a boys activist group in Balk province.
The 17 posters all talk about gender issues such as domestic violence, discrimination, harassment, early marriages and women’s right to participate in society and make their own choices. One poster shows a father treating his son favourably, giving him toys and encouragement, while his daughter is neglected and expected to just help in the household. Other posters show women participating in society in jobs typically held by men, or men helping doing household work, like ironing or looking after children.
The boys activist groups will use the posters in various ways to raise awareness and talk about gender issues. They visit schools, they gather children in their home villages, they even arrange sports events especially to promote gender issues. They are involved in drama and role plays, seminars and speech competitions. The posters are a support for their presentations and can also be posted in relevant locations in schools and public places.
“We also talk to our friends about this. We have been to several schools and since we became active in this group we arranged 80 meetings and have talked to around 8000 students. We would like support to continue these campaigns because they are needed all over Afghanistan. We don’t want the information to just stay here in Mazar-e-Sharif. Women all over Afghanistan must have their rights”, says Mabouzallah Habibzada, 18 years old and another member of the boys activist group in Mazar-e-Sharif.
SCA has chosen to work with gender issues through men and boys activist groups first of all because they work in conservative communities in rural areas, where men are the ultimate decision makers. If the men are not aware of gender issues and women´s rights, there is little chance to bring changes for the women, explains Serahuddin Joya. The idea is also to achive sustainable change in the rural communities, by raising awareness about gender issues among the boys and young men in the community.
“We want to change behaviours. Based on islam we have a responsibility to tell our families and society that women have the right to education, to go to the university and be part of society”, says Helahuddin Ibrahimi.
Some of the posters can be viewed and downloaded below.