| Nov 5, 2021
Girls Wanna Play: Through Sports, IMB girls claim their Right to Public Space
IMB participant girls with the government official
Gramonnati Sansthan has been one of CREA’s co-implementing partners for the It’s My Body (IMB) program in Uttar Pradesh (UP) for the past ten years. The IMB program advances sexual and reproductive health and rights, build knowledge and understanding on issues around gender and sexuality, and builds leadership and life skills of young women and girls using curriculum-based learning and sports.
In October 2021, the UP-based partner organized a three-day sports camp for girls and young women between 12-19 years, where the girls played football and discussed issues around gender and sexuality, and bodily autonomy. Being the first sports camp, especially after the lifting of lockdown and some ease in the COVID-19 rules, girls from different villages shared the excitement of playing football and engaging with each other creating an interactive platform.
On the first day, the District Collector (Indian Administrative Service officer who is in charge of a district) of the Mahoba district visited the stadium and met with the participating girls. At this meeting, the IMB trainers and girls shared about the It’s My Body Program and the role of football in understanding and practice of gender and sexuality, bodily autonomy, and access to public spaces. While there are playgrounds in the villages that the participants come from, they explained how those are primarily occupied by young boys and men. The participating girls thus shared their demand and need for separate playgrounds for their access. This request was well received by the District Collector, who then asked for a formal application. After the three days of Sports Camp, the Gramonnati Sansthan team, along with a few young women leaders, visited the district collectorate office and submitted an application requesting a playground for girls and young women in all eight villages, where the IMB program is operational. The request is currently under process. The District Youth Office has instructed the district team to look for available ground in the listed villages and asked the local administration to build this in convergence with the MGNREGA scheme.
Meanwhile, during the same conversation, the district youth office also connected the organization to Yuwa Mangal Dal (young men’s group) and offered to contribute sports equipment (such as volleyball) for the girls. On the 11th of October, for the international Girl Child Day, the equipment was handed to the IMB participants. Gramonnati Sansthan has further requested the District Administration to convene Yuwati Mangal Dal (young women’s group), where they can have their own government budget and sports equipment.
The case study above is a testament to the fact that girls are right bearers themselves and if given access to spaces and opportunities, they can advocate for their own demands and be change-makers in their community and beyond. The IMB program, hence, affirms and promotes girls’ leadership skills and rights to make informed decisions and to take forward the agenda of girls’ rights, especially related to access to spaces and services.
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1 Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005, is Indian labour law and social security measure that aims to guarantee the 'right to work'.
Yuwa Mangal Dal representative receiving equipment
IMB participants at the sports camp
IMB participants at the sports camp
IMB participants before a match at the sports camp