OWEN - Mobile Akademie für Geschlechterdemokratie und Friedensförderung e.V.

Let’s see... Let’s choose... Let’s change...

A cooperation project between Peace Dialogue and OWEN – Mobile Academy for Gender Democracy and Peacebuilding

In 2011, the Armenian peace and human rights organisation Peace Dialogue launched the project, Let’s see...Let’s choose...Let’s change..., which is planned to run for three years. Young women and men from regions directly involved in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict form the project’s target group. The aim of the project is to attract, motivate and enable young people to become actively involved in peaceful developments and non-violent ways of conflict transformation in their communities, countries and the entire conflict region.

Project concept

Peace Dialogue uses emancipatory approaches linked to Paulo Freire’s dialogue-based understanding of education and the Theatre of the Oppressed concept developed by Augusto Boal. The everyday realities of the young people’s lives, as well as their interests, points of view and potential form the starting point. Peace Dialogue provides “spaces” that young women and men can use to discover themselves and their own relationships to the world, to think about and discuss their discoveries openly and critically, to find out what they want to change in their immediate life world, communities, and societies, and to discover how they can make these changes through their own actions. As a result of these approaches, the young people learn to perceive themselves as responsible actors in their own lives and as autonomous citizens capable of critical thought and conscious action.

The process   (Please click the headlines)

2011: Workshops on forum and newspaper theatre in Armenia

During the first year of the project, the focus was on setting up initiative and action groups in the Armenian city of Vanadzor. Peace Dialogue held several workshops. The theatre educators Archana Krishnamurthy and Harald Hahn from Germany taught the participants the forum theatre and newspaper theatre methods used in the Theatre of the Oppressed.

2011: Self-organisation of action groups

The workshops led to the development of several action groups, which made their own ideas and initiatives visible to the public, thus reaching other young people. By the end of 2011, the number of young people attending Peace Dialogue had increased significantly. More and more young people sought out the opportunities provided by Peace Dialogue to talk, cultivate their talents and develop in ways denied to them in other places.

2012: Dialogue and joint activities in the conflict region

Peace Dialogue continued the project in 2012 with the young people already involved in the project and OWEN – Mobile Academy for Gender Democracy and Peacebuilding as a cooperation partner. Thanks to existing, trusted links to peace and human rights activists in the peace network OMNIBUS 1325, it was possible to carry out activities with young participants from Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan. The first joint workshop took place in Georgia and dealt with strategies and practical examples for getting young people involved in peace activities in their societies. We also invited the imams Vahidin Omanovic and Mevludin Rahmanovic, who set up the organisation Center for Peacebuilding in the Bosnian city of Sanski Most, to this workshop. Their work focuses on activities with young Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs. During the workshop, the participants worked on ideas for local initiatives in their regions and for joint activities. For example, the group from Stepanakert subsequently organised a successful exhibition in which young artists presented their work to the public.

Cine mobilization

Film screenings followed by discussion have been held regularly in Vanadzor, Baku and Stepanakert since June 2012. The same films are shown in all three cities. After the film there is discussion on the topics raised after. This joint film project has not only proved to be extremely popular with young people. The audiences do not just come to see an interesting film, but also because the discussion raises topics that are not debated so openly anywhere else. “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” sparked a debate on the use of enemy stereotypes in the education of children and young people in the audiences’ own societies. The screening of the film “Napola” was followed by a heated discussion on how young people can be swayed by nationalistic and military ideologies on the one hand and on the need for “patriotic” sentiments on the other. The story of the German-Turkish woman Umay in “Die Fremde” led to a stimulating exchange of views on the need to preserve or to change traditions and traditional gender roles.

August 2012: Workshop with young people from Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan in Georgia

In August 2012, Peace Dialogue and OWEN held a second workshop in Georgia. Young people from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh who had attended previous Let’s see...Let’s choose...Let’s change... events were invited. However, the workshop was also open to young people who had not previously been involved in the project. The theatre educator Harald Hahn ran the workshop with the help of Marina Grasse (OWEN). The aim was to teach and practise methods from the Theatre of the Oppressed – forum theatre and newspaper theatre – in order to get the young people involved in peacebuilding activities and social change. Working in “mixed” groups, the participants developed forum theatre scenes that showed conflict situations from young people’s real life worlds “on the stage”. The newspaper theatre sessions tackled the Armenian and Azerbaijani media’s reporting on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The scenes and the extensive follow-up discussion on the context of what had been shown made the common factors in the conflict contexts obvious. It became clear how difficult it is for today’s generation of young people to develop autonomous personalities and a critical awareness of their roles as citizens. Social hierarchies and financial dependency go hand in hand with clear expectations of socially and gender-specifically constructed roles within and outside the family. These expectations and roles allow young women and men hardly any scope to perceive themselves as individuals who are entitled to and able to make their own decisions and put them into practice. Furthermore, the political elites, mass media and educational institutions on all sides involved in the conflict have stirred up the societies with nationalist, militaristic and collective constructs of “friends” and “foes” in recent years. Both the countries’ “own” history and that of “others” have been rewritten. The “newly invented” memory creates national, ethnic and religious identities that preclude both non-violent forms of conflict transformation and a future in which co-existence in a diverse society is seen as a guarantee of peace and security. The predominant “culture of violence” generates a climate in society in which any type of articulated, let alone actual, deviation from the prescribed mainstream is denounced as a lack of patriotism. This climate extends to the family level. Any type of deviation legitimises social marginalisation, which may even take the form of exclusion from society.

“Me and My Story”. Three stories in one film

“Me and my story” aimed at encouraging the young people representing societies in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to use their creative and intellectual potential to mobilize their peers and integrate them in peace building activism. During two workshops the film makers Janina Möbius and Sandra Merseburger from La Paloma Documentaries in Berlin introduced and consulted a group of young people from Armenia, Karabach and Azerbaidzan in approaches and skills of documentary filmmaking. During the workshop, the participants developed three scenarios for three documentary films. By applying the skills they had gained, they made their own films and edited the materials. As a result, three short films: ‘Me,’ ‘Choice’ and ‘The Dreamers’ were combined into one film which talks about the issues that relate to young people in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict societies . The translated and subtitled film will be spread through the websites and media tools of PD and its partner organizations.

2013 History – theatre workshop in Tblissi

"...I realized now that having a concrete aim or a political agenda, through the compilation and presenting the same facts in a specific order, one can make societies greatest friends or the worst enemies ever..."
Kara Ghazaryan, project participant

The Workshop held in Tblissi from 17-24 of Novembre was the last joint activity in the framework of the three year project Let’s See… Let’s Choose… Let’s Change.
As others project’s activities in 2013 the workshop was focused at developing a critical historical consciousness and understanding among youth from the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict societies that people themselves are actors in history and play the most active role in constructing collective historical memories. Apart from that, the workshop intended to break the existing stereotypical perceptions on the history consisting of narratives of heroism and stories of nations’ victimhood only. The Trainers Harald Hahn and the project’s German coordinator Marina Grasse used during the workshop a broad methodology based on A. Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed and P. Freire’s pedagogical concepts, and the team’s experience working with the historical insights of representatives of conflict-affected societies.


The project, Let’s see…Let’s choose…Let’s change..., has been funded by the Civil Conflict Resolution (zivik) programme of the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations IfA (Germany) since 2011.


Podiumsdiskussion: Emanzipation in Belarus, Polen und (Ost-)Deutschland – Konzepte und Realitäten aus der Perspektive von Frauen
Lesen Sie hier den Veranstaltungsbericht oder hören Sie den Audiomitschnitt
Aktuelle Publikationen der Women’s Initiatives for Peace in Donbas/s
Lesen Sie über Perspektiven aus der Bevölkerung auf den „Minsker Prozess“ in OSCE insights und in der Ausgabe 236 der Ukraine Analysen.
Oder bestellen Sie den Sammelband Mehr Dialog wagen! Hier gibt es neben anderen spannenden Dialog-Erfahrungen einen Artikel über unsere Arbeit zu lesen.