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Script 57.12

Script

Characters

Narrator:
Explains the scene and gives the background.
Juanita:
An older woman who is a grandmother and a farmer. She is very active in her community. Juanita believes it is important for women to vote in elections.
Maria:
A mother and a farmer (she is younger than Juanita). She has never voted before in an election but is interested to learn more about it.

Narrator:
Every woman has the right to vote. For all the women who are listening, today’s drama explains why it is important that you exercise your right to vote in local elections, and encourage other women in your community to vote as well. Your vote is important because women know a lot about what their families and their communities need. Women do so much important work, such as growing food, preparing meals, collecting firewood and water, and caring for children. But despite the fact that women do so much work in their communities, they have less power than men when it comes to making the political decisions that affect their lives. One of the ways women can participate in political decision making is to vote in local elections.

Today, we are going to hear a conversation between two women about voting. The women are travelling home from the market by bus. Juanita is a grandmother and a farmer who teaches women in her community about the importance of voting. Maria is also a farmer, and a mother of four children. She has never voted in an election before, but she’s eager to learn more about it. Let’s listen now to their conversation.

Juanita:
Hello! How are you Maria? May I sit here?

Maria:
Yes, please do. It is nice to see you Juanita.

Juanita:
It’s nice to see you, too. Did you have a good day at the market?

Maria:
Not bad. What about you?

Juanita:
I sold most of my beans. So that is good. How are your children, Maria?

Maria:
They are fine, thank you. I have four now. Did you see the people in the market handing out papers?

Juanita:
Yes, I saw them. They were handing out papers about the upcoming election for this region. Have you heard about it?

Maria:
Yes, I think I’ve heard about it.

Juanita:
I took one of the pamphlets. I want to read it before I go to vote.

Maria:
Do you always vote, Juanita?

Juanita:
Of course! I want things to change in my community. Voting in elections is one important way to make that happen. Don’t you vote, Maria?

Maria:
I have thought about it, but I never have. I would like to learn more about it, but I don’t know who to ask.

Juanita:
It is lucky you and I are sitting together today! I have been very busy in my community encouraging women to vote. I would be happy to talk to you about voting.

Maria:
First, tell me why you vote.

Juanita:
You and I both know that the government affects our lives in many ways. It makes decisions about education for our children, and health care for our families. As well, the government builds the road we are travelling on right now! The government will always affect our lives so I want to make sure I have a say in what they do. How do I do this? I vote!

Maria:
I understand, but for me it is not that easy. My husband does not think women should vote. He says that I do not need to vote because he will vote for me. If I disobey him, he might get angry.

Juanita:
You are not alone Maria. Many women do not vote because their husbands do not allow them to. It is important for you to know that it is the right of every man and woman to vote in elections. No one is allowed to stop you from voting — not even your husband.

Maria:
So even if I agree with my husband’s vote I should still go and vote for myself?

Juanita:
Yes! You know what your family and and your community needs. Government leaders need to hear this information so they know what is important. Who better to tell them than women?

Maria:
Some people in my village do not agree that women should give their opinion about politics.

Juanita:
This is true in my village, too. But remember, women play a very important role in their communities. We grow food, prepare meals, collect firewood and water, and care for the children. We also (reviewer’s comments – more examples of women’s roles in community management). If women stopped doing all the work we do, our communities would not survive! Surely women deserve to participate in choosing their government leaders during election time!

Maria:
But Juanita, do you really think women’s votes can change things?

Juanita:
Yes, I do, but it takes time. If more women start voting in elections now, maybe when your daughter is a grandmother like me, she will see the change women’s votes can make. One thing is for sure, if you do not vote, nothing will ever change.

Maria:
I haven’t thought about it that way before. It is true, I do want a better life for my children. But the things I want, government leaders do not talk about. In my community we need better health care, and education. None of the government leaders talk about these things so why would voting for them make any difference?

Juanita:
If women vote we can bring attention to the things we want our leaders to do. We all know that what the government leaders want the most is to win elections. If they think women are not voting they will not include the things women care about in their political plans.

Maria:
I am not sure I understand.

Juanita:
Let me explain. In my community our mayor said he would build a new health centre. We waited for our new health centre for four years but the mayor did nothing. When the time came for the community election, the women had a meeting and decided we would not vote for him again. That mayor did not win. Now we have a new mayor and he is listening very carefully to what we women want. When women vote we make our voices heard!

Maria:
Will I need anything to vote?

Juanita:
One thing you need is an identification card. An identification card is an official paper that proves who you are. During an election you need to show this card to vote. It helps to make sure the elections are fair.

Maria:
Many of the women I know can not read or write. Can they still vote?

Juanita:
Yes, of course! Women can vote even if they can not read or write. One thing you can do is bring a friend to help. You can also learn the colours or picture symbol of the political parties or government leaders. This will help you recognize whom you want to vote for.

Maria:
Do I have to tell anyone whom I vote for?

Juanita:
No. You never have to tell anyone, not even your husband or your family. Everyone has the right to vote in secret.

Maria:
I have heard some women say they will not vote because the people at the voting station are not friendly. One woman said they tried to scare her so she would vote for the person they wanted to win the election.

Juanita:
I have heard of these stories too. In fact, this has happened to me. One time I went to vote and the men at the station told me if I did not vote for a certain person I should just go home. I knew that this was wrong. Every person has the right to a secret and safe vote. I will not let anyone take away my right to vote!

Maria:
It is easier for you, Juanita, because you are older and your children are grown. You have more time than I do to go to vote. I know that the voting stations can be far away from my home. I do not think that I would have time to go. I have four children to take care of.

Juanita:
I am a mother too, and I know how hard it can be Maria. But you can share child care with other women. When my children were young, I made arrangements with other women who wanted to vote. We would take turns watching each other’s children while some of us would go to the voting station.

Maria:
That is a good idea, and I don’t think it would be difficult to organize.

Juanita:
Think of it this way, Maria. In many ways you are voting for your children, too. You are voting so that your children can enjoy a better life. As their mother you know how best to provide for them. Voting can be another part of this.

Maria:
You are very right about that, Juanita. You know, I think I will get one of those pamphlets at the market too! I want to think carefully about whom I vote for in this next election.

Juanita:
Good for you, Maria! This is where I get off! I will see you at the market tomorrow!

Maria:
Good-bye! See you at the market!

Acknowledgements

Contributed by:  Elinor Bray-Collins, Researcher/Writer, Toronto, Canada.

Reviewed by:  Nancy Drost, Gender Specialist, CARE Canada, Ottawa, Canada.

Information Sources

This script is based on an interview with Evelyn Jones, Project Officer, CRIPDES, and community workshops given by and for women in rural El Salvador on the importance of voting.  The workshops are part of the work done by CRIPDES, an NGO providing support to women in displaced, re-populated and repatriated communities.

The role of Juanita is based on CRIPDES workers’ experience that the most active community leaders and organizers are often older women who no longer have young children to care for.