Sistren Theatre Collective Still Making A Difference 44 Years Later
Forty-four years ago since it was established, Sistren Theatre Collective, an independent
women’s organisation, which uses artistic expression as a means of inciting social change,
continues to address issues of gender base violence, gender equality, youth violence prevention and cultural preservation.
Lana Finikin, executive director of Sistren Theatre Collective said that the organisation’s latest projects since the pandemic are addressing crime and domestic violence issues in the
communities of Portland Cottage and Canaan Heights in Clarendon; Newland, Gregory Park,
Portmore Pines and Lakes Pen in St. Catherine; Allman Town, Fletcher’s Land and Hannah
Town in Kingston with community groups leaders in these areas.
“We are also working with the Community Safety Branch that is at the 100 man police station
(in St. Catherine) so when they come upon domestic violence dispute cases the police would
contact the organization and get them involved in the process,” she informed at a Violence
Prevention Alliance (VPA) Steering Committee meeting where she was the guest speaker.
Ms Finikin said that the organisation has also been working with local councillors, churches,
Woman Inc Jamaica and other stakeholders in the communities through the distribution of care packages to community members who are in need and assisting the elderly persons to get their medication, taking them to the doctor and picking up groceries for them.
She disclosed that the organisation was now in training of Groots Jamaica members to equip
them with the counselling skills and information on women’s health, sexual and reproductive
rights and public safety so that when they go into these communities they can make meaningful impact.
“One of the things that we have looked at is how gender based violence have been prevalent in these communities and working with other organisations such as Woman Inc Jamaica and
sharing information with them so that domestic violence, as well as the violence that is taking
place, especially the gang violence in their communities is minimized,” she said.
Sistren Theatre Collective over the years has consistently used the creative arts as a tool of
analysis and action to interrogate and implement its work nationally, regional and internationally.
The group has used approaches including workshops, film, the performing and visual arts, as well as psychosocial rehabilitation in inner cities communities across Jamaica.
They have conducted workshops with all sectors of society including students, youth groups,
unemployed and professional persons. Some of the themes they have looked at varied from
teenage parenthood, health and sexual violence, crime and violence to national, regional and global issues such as HIV/AIDS, housing, migration, gender, justice and economic policy.
Within these workshops they use songs, dance, poetry, music and exercises along with drama and personal testimony. The emphasis is on collective analysis of issues and discussions of possible solutions through networking with local, regional and international organisations.
Some of the projects and campaigns over the last few years for women and in particular grassroots women they have executed include: Tek It To Dem And Rise Up Wi Community (Pon De Corner Reasoning); Access to safe and legal abortion; Safe Cities/Community- Local – Global and Letters to the Dead – Honouring Ford- Smith.