Sunita’s journey is a story of resilience and triumph over gender-based violence. Despite facing severe domestic violence at the hands of her husband for playing football with her friends, Sunita didn’t give up on her passion. Her teammates rallied around her and took a stand against the oppressive gender norms that held Sunita back. Through discussions with neighbours and male members of the village, they were able to create a safe space for Sunita and other women to play sports. The sports program for mothers challenged preconceived notions about gender roles and empowered women like Sunita to break free from them. Thanks to the support of her teammates and community, Sunita was able to reclaim her right to play and choose her own path in life. Her story is a testament to the power of collective action and the importance of challenging gender-based violence and discrimination.
Child marriage is a prevalent issue in underdeveloped states like Jharkhand in India. Shockingly, nearly 38% of girls in Jharkhand are married off before they reach the age of 18, an age when they should be attending school, enjoying their childhood, and pursuing their dreams. Unfortunately, their childhood is abruptly cut short when they are forced into early marriage, depriving them of fundamental human rights such as access to education, outdoor activities, and opportunities to work outside the home. This concerning trend robs young girls of their childhood and hinders their overall development.
Access to outdoor activities is crucial for children’s overall development, and it is imperative to ensure that young girls have equal opportunities to engage in sports and other recreational activities. Although only 8% of girls continue to visit playgrounds after age 15, it is essential to recognise the value of sports for all girls. Engaging in sports can help young girls develop leadership skills that will serve them well in the future. It also provides an opportunity to be healthy, develop a sense of belonging, and build a strong community. Every girl should have access to physical activity and the chance to experience its positive impact on their life, regardless of their athletic abilities.
To understand why girls stop playing while boys continue to frequent the playgrounds, the sociological status of women in families was examined. Initially, Jharkhand may seem like a tribal state with a more open and egalitarian social and cultural fabric. However, the influence of globalisation and poverty in the last two decades has changed this situation. The incidence of domestic violence, child trafficking, witchcraft, child marriages, and other crimes against women has increased, highlighting the urgent need to prioritise the rights and safety of women and girls in society.
Theory of Change:
Empowering young mothers can create a ripple effect of positive change. By providing access to opportunities, we can equip them with the knowledge and skills to make informed decisions about their health, family planning, and finances. Educated and financially independent mothers benefit their families and communities by serving as role models for younger generations.
Investing in the education and empowerment of mothers is essential for building a more equitable and just society where everyone is treated with dignity and respect. By breaking down gender stereotypes and promoting inclusive values, we can create a virtuous cycle of progress where educated mothers raise educated children who become educated parents, leading to a more prosperous society.
To achieve this, it is crucial for governments, non-governmental organisations, and individuals to work together to create policies and programs that support the education and empowerment of mothers, particularly in underprivileged communities. By prioritising the education and empowerment of mothers, we can create a brighter future where every individual, regardless of gender, has the opportunity to reach their full potential.
To promote sports among women and create opportunities for them to engage in healthy competition, build leadership skills, and promote gender equality, the Matri Shakti Football Tournament was launched as a platform for women to showcase their sportsmanship and compete against each other once a year.
By encouraging women to participate in sports, we can empower them to lead healthier and more fulfilling lives while also contributing to the development of their families and communities. The Matri Shakti Football Tournament aims to create a more inclusive and supportive community for women and promote gender equality. Through this initiative, women can learn essential life skills such as team building, resilience, decision-making, and self-awareness, which can be applied in various other areas of their lives.
The Matri Shakti Football Tournament is just one step towards creating a more inclusive and supportive community for women. When a mother comes out to play sports in a community, she challenges patriarchal norms, breaks barriers for her daughters, and helps sons understand their responsibility to support and protect women. One of the critical insights gained from the tournament was that mothers who participated were not only benefiting from physical activity and social interaction but were also creating safe spaces for their children, especially their daughters, to play. As a result, the environment in Jagnathpur slums began to change, particularly for young girls encouraged to participate in sports and other physical activities.
In addition to promoting physical activity and teamwork through football, the tournament serves as a platform for women to become agents of change in their community by providing them with the tools and resources to effect positive social change. Empowering women through sports and education can create a more equitable and just society for all.
The tournament is organised at 4 levels, with a task at every level for each team. 4 different agendas for 4 different levels. The teams will be given specific tasks to be completed before the match.
Tasks are designed around five key agendas
• Gender stereotypes
• Domestic violence
• Menstrual hygiene
• Heinous crimes against girls/women
• Basic Rights of Girls
Each level will have the following stages :
Task handouts: Handouts of the task will be given to each team. It will have two parts. The first part will be informative and include important information regarding any one agenda. The second part will carry a list of activities that the team will have to complete.
Pre-match Practice: The teams with their coaches must gather to practice before the match. They will also have to read the handout and complete the task.
Submission of task: Once done with the task they’ll have to submit the task work, and the team who will do their best will be recognised with some gifts.
Match: The football match will happen on the decided ground, and the winning teams will qualify for the next level. Then the qualified teams will again be given the next task on different agenda.