Sports for Empowerment

Inspired by research demonstrating that girls who participate in sports have higher self-confidence, stronger social support systems and improved physical and mental health, Sports for Empowerment (S4E) is one of Vikalp’s newest programs. In June 2014 Vikalp created all-girl volleyball teams in a number of rural villages where the risk of child marriage, violence and dropping out of school was particularly high for girls. Through volleyball, S4E provides a supportive environment for girls to learn a new skill, develop self-confidence and better understand their bodies, health and capabilities. Sport also provides a gateway for to initiate other big conversations about empowerment, girls’ rights and alternative channels for growth and learning. Sport is not only a successful tool for the empowerment of girls and women on its own; most crucially, it can be used as an inroad for socialisation, networking and discussion. When sport is used in conjunction with other styles of learning, like workshops, mentoring, and girls-only safe space discussion, its value is truly realised.

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Playing volleyball makes me more confident, gives me courage and gives me the chance to see the world outside my village; so I really enjoy it. When I first started playing volleyball my parents resisted, saying I was too old for games and that it was time to focus on my household work. After winning my first match though, I began to realise that I have the power and courage to make decisions for my own life. Now I have re-enrolled in school, and I help lead Vikalp meetings in other villages to give other girls the courage to do the same thing.  

-Seema, 18