11th October is the International Day of the Girl Child, a yearly reminder that we need to celebrate and improve the lives of girls around the world. This year’s theme is “My Voice, Our Equal Future.”
As the UN says, “progress for adolescent girls has not kept pace with the realities they face today, and COVID-19 has reinforced many of these gaps.” We agree, and we have seen this highlighted in our work more than ever this year. Due to country lockdowns and restrictions on movement and services, many girls found themselves with limited access to essential Sexual and Reproductive Health services such as counselling, contraceptive pills and STI check ups. There was an increase in many countries of domestic abuse, and often women and girls were forced to spend whole days inside with their abusers. We’re thankful – with COVID-19 restrictions across Africa largely easing – we’ve been able to run our programmes again, providing some of these services once more.
In keeping with this year’s theme, here we give a voice to one of our female coaches on our Alive & Kicking programme in Zambia with NOWSPAR, the National Organisation for Women in Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation.
Name: Phalecy Phiri, age: 26
Question: What Challenges do Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) face in your community?
Phalecy: I think AGYW’s Right to Education is being infringed. Most young girls here do not have accesses to Education, a parent or a guardian would rather keep young girl at home to help out with some house chores than to take them to school.
Question: Do you think sports is important to AGYW and boys in your community?
Phalecy: Yes it’s very much important, because as a girl child, sports will provide something to spend your time one and avoid illicit behaviours and help to avoid early pregnancies and early marriages. I like the idea of the introduction of sports in our community, it influences change. The small girls that are growing up will be following examples of what these other girls that are currently involved in sports. There’s a saying that says “You cannot control a broken adult, but you can control a child.”
Question: Why should AGYW be allowed to take part in sports?
Phalecy: Yes very much, but first of all, we need to be provided with concert forms for our participants so we can be able to explain to their parents about the programme, that ways, the parents can understand and be able to release their children.
Question: What do AGYW gain from taking part in Sports and TA Programmes?
Phalecy: I think they gain a lot from sport and TackleAfrica (TA) programme, like myself, I have been a TA coach for two years and two months now and I know that TA provides both fitness and education in their programmes, and through the education side of TA, AGYW understand their rights. This will help AGYW refuse to be married off early and pursue their education.
Question; Just to add on, on the educational part of TA, what other things do AGYW gain from TA programme?
Phalecy: 1, AGYW have started to understand their rights, 2, they now start to know how to avoid STIs and prevention of HIV, and through the rogramme, the same AGYW will also go out to their friends and share the same information.
Question: Why is that particularly important in your community?
Phalecy: Like I said initially, AGYW will be able to understand their rights and sexual rights and helps the boys to stay away from stealing looking for fast money because they are always here at the ground and they are motivated with tournament so they always want to be part of the programme.
Question: As a coach, what experience have you gained from being a TA coach?
Phalecy: I think TA programme has helped me a lot, because I was a TA coach before I went through a psychosocial programme, I had a lot of information and how to handle different kind of people. TA has helped me how to communicate and how to have control and how I just present myself as a person.
Huge thanks to Phalecy for her time and her vision for the future!
There are many ways to get involved in our work. Visit here for more details https://tackleafrica.org/get-involved/