You may have read the news today. A teenager was harassed on her way back from school. A housewife, raped and murdered. Just the other day, you read about the rape of an eight-month-old baby. Do these stories bother you? Or did you fold up the newspaper and sigh in relief thinking, “At least my daughter is safe.”
For young girls hailing from disadvantaged communities, activities such as competitive sports not only encourage them to discuss sensitive health issues but also empower them to take up leadership roles in their societies. For women, participating in team sports also enables a sense of unity that helps them be seen as champions within their communities.
Sports for development is one of the more recent initiatives designed to get adolescents talking about issues that are rarely ever discussed in their communities. Believe it or not, activities such as football, cricket and swimming are leading to discussions amongst young girls – they range from sexual health to menstruation and nutrition. While practicing their passes and drilling their dribbling, girls are learning about how to take care of their bodies and take charge.
Golap Shah is a 14-year-old student of class 8 at Kolatoli High School in Cox’s Bazar. She is somewhat hesitant when talking about her life – impeded in no small part by her having to abandon her dialect in order to communicate. But once the conversation turns towards the one passion of her life, her face lights up with an infectious smile, her apparent unease replaced by a sense of self-belief and an eagerness to let the world know what her life is really all about. Every day, between school, studies, and her daily chores, between 4pm and sunset, she takes to the waves of the Bay of Bengal, her and her surfing board ready for everything the sea has to offer.
Mitu and Tania are club leaders and cricket coaches from BRAC’s adolescent development programme (ADP) in Bangladesh. The programme creates safe places where adolescent girls can read, socialise, play sport together, take part in cultural activities and have open discussions on personal and social issues with their peers. Each club has 25-35 adolescent members aged 10 to 19 years old. A range of livelihood training courses are offered to the older girls to help them learn new skills for employment.
Over the past one month, Bangladesh has been eagerly following their favourite football teams during the FIFA World Cup. BRAC decided to harness this nationwide enthusiasm by organising a match between Brazil and Argentina – two of the country’s most beloved teams. However, the players themselves were made up of girls from BRAC’s adolescent development programme’s (ADP) adolescent clubs. The best players were selected from across Bangladesh to ensemble the two teams who played a friendly game against each other on 27 June at the T&T field in Motijheel, Dhaka.
Meet Sonya –an 18 year-old girl living in Narayanganj, Bangladesh. Sonya lives a typical Bengali lifestyle; she enjoys the park with her friends and helps her parents with chores. But Sonya isn't typical. At an age when girls are often expected to get married, she is breaking gender stereotypes, instilling confidence, and empowering a new generation of girls… all through her love for karate. Sonya is among a group of girls who are taking part in BRAC’s Adolescent Development Program where they are mentored in life skills, in this case, through the art of karate.
Below is an article published on CNN by Sara Sidner about BRAC girls' cricket team Chittagong, Bangladesh (CNN) -- In a dusty, unkempt field in the middle of Bangladesh's second-largest city, crowds of men and boys gather to watch their favorite sport.