Drama competition promotes gender equality in Burmese refugee schools and learning centres in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, 16 September 2014 - "The event was so fun! I am a very shy person but after practicing for the performance I feel more able to speak up", said a young girl after the drama competition, which promoted gender equality among Burmese refugee children and teenagers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Malaysia Drama Competition, 2014The performance of the Kachin Refugee Learning Centre Setapak,"Julie's Dream". Photo credit: ICMC Gender discrimination, stereotypes between men and women, and inequality between genders are among the underlying causes of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV). To encourage gender equality among the Burmese refugee youth, the Myanmar Refugee Learning Centre (MRLC), in collaboration with ICMC Malaysia, presented the Drama Competition "Equal Rights for Girls and Boys".

Participants from seven Burmese refugee schools and learning centres of different ethnicities wrote and performed a short play to show different instances of gender inequality and ways to cope.

The competition encouraged children, adolescents, parents and teachers to reflect on the unequal distribution of power between men and women in different settings – whether it be the home, school or community. During the competition "the participants expressed their emotion in a given situation, and the audience then reflected on their own viewpoints. It was an excellent way to involve children and demonstrate their talents, while also drawing attention to gender inequalities", explained Santha Devi Velusamy, ICMC Senior Community Services Coordinator.

"The whole preparation for the drama competition in the past two months has been very exciting, especially designing the props, and coming up with the scripts", stated another enthusiastic participant. "The drama competition allowed children to overcome stage fright and taught them to work together", a teacher added.

Each school had a maximum of 10 participants and 5 behind-the-scenes crew members between 10-17 years old. A panel of three judges picked the winners based on creativity, language, overall performance, and the embodiment of positive values. Line memorization, tone, prop design and construction, costumes design and facial expressions were also taken into consideration.

The competition was part of the mini-grant programme administered by ICMC Malaysia. With funding from the US Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (BPRM), ICMC reviews, selects, funds and monitors grant applications from refugee groups and communities on projects that either raise awareness on SGBV or assist SGBV survivors.