Monika’s quote: “लड़कियां आगे बढ़ेंगी तभी वो कामियाब होंगी। अगर स्कूल वाले और घरवाले हमे सपोर्ट करते है तो हम ज़रूर आगे जायेंगे ।” (Only if girls come forward will they achieve success. If school and family members support us then we will definitely succeed) – Monika is a volleyball player who has represented India at both national and International level. She is currently studying at Karnal University under the sports quota.
Centre for Social Research (CSR) started its journey with ‘Sports for Empowering Girls’ programme in the year 2017. The project was successfully completed on 15th of May 2018; however, the aspiration and dreams of those young Haryanvi girls has a long way to go. “Sports for Girls: Confidence-Building and Increasing the Value of girl Children in 5 districts in Haryana” under the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ (BBBP) programme was supported by the Australian High Commission in New Delhi.
Our team headed forward with the motto of “Khel kud banae sashkt betiya. Betiya banae sashkt desh”; meaning ‘Sports will empower our daughters, Daughters will empower the nation!’ Through ‘Sports for Girls’ we had aimed to address discrimination against girls and women in accessing education and sports for holistic development of their personalities and economic empowerment.
As a pilot project in sports, the team decided to focus on five most sex-skewed districts namely; Ambala, Kurukshetra, Jhajjar, Gurugram and Mahendragarh. Geeta Phogat; Commonwealth gold medalist wrestler said in an interview to The Guardian “things are not going to change until Indian women, and their parents stop being afraid of what society will say.” The team took it as a challenge to change the rigid patriarchal mindsets in the rural parts of Haryana because sports should definitely not be seen as a gender segregated activity.
Dr. Manasi Mishra, the Head of Research Knowledge and Management Department and the project Coordinator for ‘Sports for Girls’ has bravely worked for more than a decade at the grass root level to fight for the rights of women and girls of Haryana. Dr. Mishra with her field experience highlighted the importance of sports in the shaping of personalities of girls and their overall development with human values and team spirit.
The project was broadly divided into 3 phases; the first in which we conducted the scoping study and an enrollment drive to identify the number of girls enrolled in district and sub-district level athletics programs. In the second phase we conducted one sub-district and one district level match in each of the five selected districts. We chose the sports based on the survey results. Here, 100 socio-economically backward participants from the five districts were given a small scholarship amount of rupees 2000 each. In the last phase of the project we concluded by a District level Workshop and Speaking Tour by National Champions; here we invited local women international players to motivate the participants and at the same time we made efforts to provide some sports equipment’s to the girls to persuade them to continue their practice.
After a motivational year long experience in the field of sports in Haryana, we wish to continue working with these brilliant sportswomen of Haryana because such extremely talented girls have a lot of potential; just the right amount of motivation, nutritional facility and financial assistance will encourage them to climb the ladder of success.