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Fun and games: breaking down stereotypes in Mozambique

People are holding a giant multi-coloured fabric. They have their hands in the air and the mood is celebratory,
RED NOSES and Light for the World partners take part in a workshop.
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RED NOSES International clowns are visiting Mozambique, using humour and art to breakdown gender and disability stereotypes and provide psychosocial support to people with disabilities.

RED NOSES International’s Emergency Smile Programme has joined Light for the World’s “InPower” programme in Sofala Province for a three-week visit to address gender norms and disability stereotypes in a playful, joyful and comical way.

InPower: tackling disability stereotypes and gender-based violence

Light for the World’s InPower programme began in early 2023. The goal is to empower women and girls, especially those with disabilities, to be safe from different forms of gender-based violence (GBV) and harmful practices and to advance gender and disability rights. The project is funded by ADA, with funds from the Austrian Development Cooperation. 

The programme responds to the growing exposure of girls and young women with disabilities to gender-based violence in rural district communities of Sofala Province.The situation has worsened with recent climate disasters, including floods and severe cyclones in 2019 and 2021, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.

The main contributing factors to this situation are deeply rooted negative stereotypes against disability and low accountability mechanisms in institutions responsible for dealing with gender-based violence. At the same time, girls and women with disabilities have little knowledge of their rights, as they are largely marginalised from family, community and school life.

Stereotypes can be broken, and communities can come together by finding a common ground through art and creativity.

Chiara Manavella, Emergency Smile manager at RED NOSES International

“InPower will contribute to greater gender equality and empowerment of women and girls, especially those with disabilities, especially in the areas of education and advocacy, to eliminate gender-based violence,” says Milton Chifuca, InPower Project Manager. 

“The programme has a wide range of participatory and empowering elements for people with disabilities – especially girls and young women – using a human rights-based approach.” 

Together with our partners – including, the Mozambican Association of People with Disabilities (ADEMO), Friends of Life Association (AMAVIDA), Mozambican community-based rehabilitation organization (OREBACOM), ESMABAMA Association and the Kuphedzana  Assocation – we work to create conducive home, community and school environments where gender equality and disability inclusion are embraced.

RED NOSES staff, wearing beige RED NOSES uniforms, Light for the World and OREBACOM staff raise their hands together during a Humour Relief Workshop. Breaking down stereotypes together in a celebratory mood.
RED NOSES, OREBACOM and Light for the World staff raise their hands together during a Humour Relief Workshop. © Craig Russell

Breaking down stereotypes with play and humour

Based in Vienna, RED NOSES International is an NGO which has been bringing humour and laughter to people in need of relief for nearly 30 years. 

Using arts and joyful play, RED NOSES has joined the InPower programme to break down existing gender and disability stereotypes through a wide range of participatory artistic activities. They will also provide psychosocial support for local Disability Inclusion in Community Development (DICD) workers and other partners. 

The project visit, in which RED NOSES clowns are visiting Beira, Buzi and Gorongosa, is part of their Emergency Smile programme. The programme aims to promote emotional well-being and resilience for those affected by crisis. 

The joint visit has included Circus Smile workshops, for children with disabilities to learn circus skills in a playful way, and clown shows and musical parades in different communities.  

The humour-based activities aim to support children, especially girls with disabilities, to improve their confidence, resilience and agency.  

Humour Relief workshops are also being held, including trainings with Light for the World colleagues in Mozambique. The workshops share how humour can create powerful emotional connections between people, enhance and stimulate social interactions, reduce stress and anxiety and foster a better professional environment.  

Chiara Manavella, Emergency Smile manager at RED NOSES International, says: “Playfulness and humour are at the core of all our activities. Through the implementation of participatory artistic activities, stigma surrounding certain topics can be addressed in a safe but playful way. 

“Using humour in daily life sparks creativity, which is an amazing tool for problem solving and establishing strategies for how to cope with stressful situations.”

Four people dressed as clowns, smiling and singing, are performing in front of a crowd. Working to break down stereotypes.
RED NOSES International clowns perform a clown show, outside ADEMO’s offices. © Craig Russell

A quality partnership

Driven by delivering quality projects and making a difference for the people we seek to serve; RED NOSES International and Light for the World have been investing in our partnership since 2020. 

Combining our expertise has allowed our respective organisations to achieve higher quality programmes and greater impact than we would do independently.  

“Light for the World, as well as all the other local organisations participating in this project, are amazing partners for RED NOSES International,” says Chiara from RED NOSES International. 

“By collaborating together, we can explore the potential of co-creation to its fullest.”

Creating sustainable change

By training Light for the World staff, DICD partners and cultural institutions, RED NOSES International will transfer valuable skills. Including the Provincial House of Culture in Mozambique in activities will also help to ensure long-lasting sustainable support. 

The introduction of play and fun, and emphasis on self-care and psychosocial support should improve the project long-term; creating new approaches to breaking down stereotypes and improving resilience among staff. 

Working together for sustainable change, RED NOSES International will continue to provide online psychosocial support to our partners in Mozambique. 

Our partnership doesn’t end here, RED NOSES International will be joining another InPower again in 2024!

Want to learn more?

Find out about our work in Mozambique.

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