Girls playing handball in Bangladesh
By Laura Pappano
Sport is a tool for social, political and economic equality. In Bangladesh – where girls face routine physical violence, child marriage, and are denied the same access to education as boys – that couldn’t be more critical. Consider that the country’s Demographic and Health Survey showed that 36 percent of women believe that “wife beating is justified.” Clearly, the power of sport to build physical strength and self-worth among schoolgirls is about more than play. It’s about survival.
Promoting Human Rights and Education in Bangladesh (PHREB) does innovative work with schools to create sports opportunities for girls – something that PHREB executive director Faridul Alam told FairGameNews challenges rigid gender roles.
“People widely believe that girls do not need to achieve education,” Alam says in an e-mail. “In almost all schools in Bangladesh there is an annual sports competition where girls have a chance to play some traditional games such as kabadi. However, during the rest of the year, most schools do not have any organized sports events for girls. On the other hand, boys can play whatever sports they like, any time they like. Boys regularly play at school and community grounds, often on a daily basis.”
While most high schools are coed, he notes that “in these schools girls have no chance to play as it is considered shameful for girls to play.