Arts and culture can be an effective means to bring people together across sectarian divides. Establishing independent creative spaces in conflict or post-conflict settings is not an easy quest; it can be a highly political endeavour, and is often not prioritised in peacebuilding efforts. PAX has been working with Lebanese organisation Tiro Association for Arts in the south of Lebanon since 2015, supporting them to break through existing social divisions by bringing (young) people together from different backgrounds to re-activate culture and connect with one another.
After establishing trust and credibility in their communities through organising inclusive events such as dance workshops, music festivals, theatre shows and so on, Tiro and PAX wanted to develop more focussed programming. In order to do this, a gender pilot project was created that addresses gender issues that the communities and youth are challenged with.. Tiro Association have written, filmed, and are currently editing a short film that challenges traditional gender roles in Sour (Tyre). Once the film is complete, they will tour around different communities in the south of Lebanon with their mobile cinema and facilitate film screenings and discussions. There will also be small funds dedicated to people attending the screens who wish to address the topics discussed through small-scale community-based projects.
Arts and culture can be a means to stimulate dialogue on sensitive issues that may be too taboo to directly discuss and with communities that may not normally engage with one another. The film is centred around an issue that crosses ethnic or religious lines, and that many young men and women can relate to. Therefore, by demonstrating that different communities face similar gendered struggles, it could not only lead to increased awareness and sensitivity on the issue but also increased social cohesion and understanding among people.
A film has been created by a group of young creatives and filmmakers in Tayr Debba. Tayr Debba was specifically chosen as it is a village in the South of Lebanon where the first women’s football team was formed. The film is about a young girl challenging traditional gender norms by playing football – a sport normally reserved for boys and men. The film follows her struggles both in society and within her family for breaking gendered stereotypes. The film will be used in the community discussions to begin a conversation on where these norms and stereotypes come from, what effect they can have, and how to overcome and transform harmful norms. The film will also be screened in Tayr Debba to serve as a reflection on how that team overcame the prejudice and transformed the perceptions and limitations for men and women.