Seema and her little sisters usually spent their evenings looking over the playground that was behind their house. They used to sit there together, braid each other’s hair and cheer silently for their two brothers who used to play football, and sometimes cricket.
At times, their mother would scold them for sitting outside watching the boys in the field. For her, girls should not be sitting or roaming around outside. It was against the local practice for girls of the village to step out alone or even play in the ground.
And nobody raised a question on this practice. Except Seema.
Seema and her sisters expressed their interest in continuing to play games on the ground. They were met with a lot of orthodox viewpoints and were forced to step off the ground. They silently reached out to an NGO working in their area – IT For Change, and became a part of their programme called Dwanigalu (Voices).
Since 2016, under this programme, the NGO’s team has been working with adolescents to strengthen their leadership and agency, especially that of adolescent girls in the community. They imparted ‘rights orientation’ using an innovative training model that combines both traditional and technological mediated methodologies. The focus was on ensuring mobility and access to public places for adolescent girls.
When Seema and her sisters expressed their strong interest in continuing to play on the ground, IT For Change conducted the Dwanigalu training for them. These girls, after understanding that it is their right to access as well as play on the ground, started motivating other girls in the village to join them as well. Along with Prakriye, a field unit of IT for Change based in Mysore,they worked out an action plan.
This action plan consisted of a series of discussion with parents of the girl children in the village, a showcase of audio and video screenings of women sportsperson, followed by discussions with elders and influential personalities of the village.
Slowly, after a series of deliberations, the parents and elders of the family started turning in favour of access being granted to girls to access public spaces and the ground. The team along with the girls reached out to the youth group that was responsible for managing and using the playground. Separate schedules were created for different groups to play on the ground, ensuring right of mobility as well as safety for the girls of the village.
This entire process took over eight months of repeated consultations, deliberations and negotiations with different stakeholders of the village. But towards the end, the smile on Seema’s face spoke of how important this ‘right’ was for girls of her village.
That no Seema’s of the world could ever get banished from the ground because of her gender.
Currently, IT For Change is also running Adolescent Training Programme in more than 25 villages. And the villagers are slowly turning in favour of supporting girls with their rights and choices. A small one, but a definite win!
Watch the video here!
*Name has been changed to ensure privacy.
About IT For Change:
Founded in 2000, IT for Change works at the intersection of digital technology and social change, with a view to promote social justice and gender equality through research, policy advocacy and field practice. Field Unit of IT for Change: Prakriye manages community information centres, a physical space, mobilising women towards using technology to access information.
EdelGive supports the ‘Namma Maathu, Namma Jaaga (Our discourse, our space) programme which aims to build a supportive community ecosystem for the prevention and redressal of all forms of gender-based violence against women and girls.
About EdelGive Foundation
EdelGive Foundation is a grant-making organisation, helping build and expand philanthropy in India by funding and supporting the growth of high-calibre small to mid-sized NGOs. EdelGive makes, receives and manages grants, to empower vulnerable children, women and communities via a zero-cost platform.