Underprivileged children in India face numerous barriers to education and sports opportunities. Access to advanced digital learning tools is limited, ACER 2018 report suggests that in rural India, 55.5% of students have never used computers. There exists a prejudiced bias that exists in the society that sports do no good to the children and that time is better utilized studying. In rural schools, proper sports coaching and equipment is unavailable and people fail to see how important physical activity and sports is for a child’s holistic development. In this equation, girls have the worst hand dealt to them. Given the recent performances of female athletes like Saina Nehwal, Mary Kom, P.V. Sindhu, Mithila Raj, the Phogat sisters etc., India at the moment is going through one of the best phases of women achievement in sport. Although, this still has not translated into more women choosing sports as a profession.
When there is a trade-off involved, our society evidently prefers to educate boys over girls. Girls are subjected to multiple adversities such as being pulled out of school at an early age, being responsible for the household chores, and caring for siblings. According to a UNICEF report, each year, more than 1.5 million underaged girls are married in India, making it the country with the largest number of child brides in the world. Menstruation is another reason for their suffering, due to lack of amenities, menstrual hygiene and the stigma attached to the phenomenon, girls stay home during their periods or are made to drop out of school when they reach menarche. All these factors combined pose as barriers to rural girl’s learning and development opportunities, hampering their holistic physical and mental development and well-being.
Due to our patriarchal society, the girls who do end up studying, lack leadership skills as they are taught to be submissive. They lack confidence and basic life skills which are important for them to lead a healthy independent life. They also lack the appropriate knowledge on health and sanitization, especially menstrual hygiene as that is considered a taboo and girls are left unaware of their options on how to deal with life during menstruation.
We believe there is a significant gap between the education being imparted and the life skills needed to lead a normal life, which needs to be bridged.
- 88% girls don’t know about washing facilities and appropriate hygiene tips
- More than 70% of girls are not involved in decision making at home, work or about their own life
- There is a lack of women role models for girls to aspire to and a lack of government support
- There is a lack of sports facilities and fields – places where girls can play in personal safety
We aim to bridge this gap through the means of sports (soccer) and imbibe confidence in these young girls.
Our Shakti girls project is aimed at providing these girls aged 12 to 18 years requisite access to sports, awareness of fundamental life skills and basic computer literacy thereby aligning with SDG 3- Good Health & Well-Being, SDG 4- Quality Education and SDG-5 Gender Equality. We have a successful record of implementing such projects in rural and urban slum schools and community grounds previously. This project will provide young adolescent girls from rural and underprivileged backgrounds a platform to participate in physical activities and sports in safe community spaces, impart fundamental life skills and equip them with basic computer literacy, thus empowering them to face the uncertain and harsh post-pandemic future with hope, resilience, and confidence. The project envisages providing these girls a well-proportioned mix of constructive outdoor physical activities and meaningful learning pathways for their physical and mental wellbeing. The project also aims to create youth leaders from the group who will ensure engagement and empowerment of the group in their own community.
The girls are taught via the means of football fundamental life skills such as interpersonal communication, teamwork, resilience, etc. and boost their self-confidence. Acquainted them with functions of digital devices and computer literacy, such as emails, using the internet, cyber security do’s-and-don’ts and using various video conferencing platforms, etc. We also work to increase health and hygiene awareness in the girls through our menstrual hygiene management program. The participation of girls in sports also challenges gender stereotypes and promotes gender equality to fight discrimination against girls. The ultimate goal of the project is to increase girls’ confidence and empower them to become women leaders so that they can inspire other girls in their quest for independence and a brighter future. The empowerment of women will also make an enormous contribution to public life and community development, empowering one girl will empower her family as well as her society.
Student Alumni vision:
To engage, educate and empower our players through football based learning activities and equipping them with necessary skills and knowledge to carry forward our vision of developed communities/to become responsible citizens of tomorrow.
Through a structured approach and providing opportunities to play by creating safe spaces, our students will learn life skills, leadership, and help gain confidence to aid their decision making abilities. This will ultimately lead to their holistic development focusing on physical as well as mental well being.