Amnesty youth groups in Switzerland get creative performing live on the streets of Neuchâtel to engage the public on sexual and reproductive rights and launch the My Body My Rights campaign in a uniquely theatrical way. Bad weather couldn’t stop these determined activists!
Youth take the lead
Young people working with Amnesty Switzerland were determined to mark the launch of the My Body My Rights campaign in a unique way, so they decided to ‘take the message to the streets’ and perform street theatre on the importance of sexual and reproductive rights. 31 young women and men from various Amnesty groups participated in the Youth Day of Action, while showcasing their live performance and acting skills.
The different street actions were prepared beforehand by the Neuchâtel youth group and finalised after the ‘Speaking Out’ workshop hosted by Amnesty International Switzerland on 21 March, 2014. The human rights education activity was designed for young people to openly discuss sexual and reproductive rights.
By planning the activity from scratch, the young people felt confident to share their knowledge in a creative way. They said they were excited to see first-hand the reaction they could provoke from the general public.
Empathy knows no borders
Organizers stated that participants quickly identified with those affected by human rights violations around the world. Placing herself in the shoes of Moroccan teen Amina Filali (who committed suicide in 2012 after being forced to marry her rapist), one young woman in the group felt she would have done the same. In addition, a man who identified himself as gay, said he could empathize with people who had been discriminated against due to their sexuality, as he had witnessed similar situations in Switzerland.
Four Big Actions
Despite the inclement weather, the youth group hit the streets of Neuchâtel to perform street theatre on four key issues – forced marriage, gay marriage, sex education, and abortion rights – crafting striking scenarios by utilising their live performance skills. For example, one of the participants was crouched in a locked cage with a sign reading ‘I did not choose my husband.’ The goal was to bring attention to global rights violations and to call on the general public to get involved.
Another depiction occurred in a classroom setting in which a young professor of sex education was tied up against a blackboard, while his students wore blindfolds. The event drew the attention of passers-by, despite only lasting for two and a half hours due to the rainy and cold weather conditions.
Only the Beginning
More events are planned for the two-year campaign, with the aim to encourage more young people to become active in facilitating human rights education and activism on sexual and reproductive rights.
Using human rights education methodology enables participants to get involved, be creative, and have fun at the same time. The youth of Amnesty clubs shared their message effectively, taking the lead to engage their own networks and the public in the My Body My Rights campaign.
Amnesty International launched the My Body My Rights campaign in March 2014, which aims to empower individuals to make informed choices about their sexuality and reproduction, and to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights freely.
‘Speaking Out!’ is a youth engagement human rights education activity aimed at starting a conversation and enabling young people to take meaningful action for the My Body My Rights campaign and become campaign champions.
The My Body My Rights human rights education activities aim to engage youth to:
Increase their understanding of sexual and reproductive rights, how they affect their lives and why they are important,
Have their voices and opinions highlighted in the global campaign launch,
Begin or continue their involvement with the My Body My Rights campaign and sexual and reproductive rights work with Amnesty International,
Develop skills by facilitating human rights education and activism with other young people.