Vulnerable women perform their stories in Malawi Parliament

Through the performances, lawmakers were given a direct experience of what it is like to be a vulnerable woman or child in Malawi.

Vulnerable women have performed their stories of sexual exploitation and abuse for lawmakers in the Malawi Parliament.

The stories – devised by the women based on their own experiences of being exploited and abused as children in local bars and brothels – served to highlight the gaps in existing national child protection laws, and urged lawmakers to take immediate action to fill these gaps through new laws or changes to existing ones.

The performances – organised by Theatre for a Change – were especially unique. Lawmakers were invited to play the role of different characters in the story, to experience first-hand what it is like to be a vulnerable woman or child in this situation.

This innovative and unique approach resulted in greater empathy and understanding among lawmakers about the needs of vulnerable groups, so that more informed and robust policy can be created to address these needs.

The performances form part of Theatre for a Change’s radical approach to advocacy, which empowers vulnerable groups to engage lawmakers in an active and physical dialogue about their rights. Normally, in traditional and conservative societies like Malawi, a strict social hierarchy prevents marginalised groups from speaking directly to those in power.

The approach is underpinned by Theatre for a Change’s belief that participants are the experts on their own lives, and they know best what needs to change regarding issues that affect them.

Theatre for a Change operates a New Partnerships Programme, which trains and builds the capacity of other organisations to use these unique and highly participatory approaches in their advocacy and behaviour change work for the empowerment of marginalised and vulnerable groups.

For more about Theatre for a Change and its methodology, or to schedule an interview with a Theatre for a Change representative at the Women Deliver conference in Vancouver from June 3rd to 6th, please contact Ryan Borcherding at

For a full press release about this project including photos and quotes from participants and lawmakers, please contact Nick Toner on