Girl Determined works to equip girls with the skills, confidence and support system to navigate Myanmar’s changing landscape, increasing their access to new potential benefits, while avoiding the growing number of pitfalls.
Problem to be tackled
Myanmar is gradually emerging from over 50 years of military repression, trying to balance finding its place amongst the wider global context while maintaining the beliefs and practices that has shaped its way of life for centuries.
Adolescent girls are in a particularly vulnerable position, being doubly marked as both a child and a woman – and girls who come from minority ethnic or religious groups, live with a disability, or come from poorer families are further disadvantaged. This social inequality stems in part as a result of restrictive gender norms of girls being considered of lesser value than their male counter parts. Girls and women tend to bear the burden of most domestic chores, and often have little say in decisions that affect their lives. In many cases, girls face pressure to drop out of school, engage in potentially dangerous labour or enter marriage at a young age in families already facing financial hardships
Girls at the forefront of change: Girl Determined facilitates girls’ recognition of their personal and group potential. In Myanmar, Girl Determined is sparking a movement of girls with leadership skills to advocate for their own rights and a future that does not re-create the risks they now face.
Since 2010 Girl Determined has been working with girls aged 12-17 in rural and urban communities to develop girls’ abilities to take hold of their lives’ course. With 8 million adolescent girls in the country, more than half of those not currently in school, the need is evident. Girl Determined programmes enhance girls’ ability to make strategic life-decisions, manage their money, take care of their bodies and minds and organise positive social change around issues that affect them.
“Colorful Girls Circles”
“Colorful Girls Circles” are structured, weekly after-school programmes, following a two year curriculum, facilitated by trained women from the relevant communities. In 2013 Girl Determined began developing and implementing a sporting programme to compliment the weekly leadership circles; after careful consideration volleyball has been selected mainly because of its emphasis on teamwork as well as volleyball’s limited needs for equipment, specialty attire and space. 750 girls have immediately attended the weekly sports sessions, compounding the lessons learned in the circles and bringing physical health and body confidence to the fore. In addition to the clear individual benefits of regular sports, including fitness, building patience and reliance, and problem-solving skills, gender norms in some communities are beginning to shift around expected and accepted behaviours for girls.
“Colorful Girls Circles” are comprised of girls aged 12-17 from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds; the girls struggle daily with restrictive gender roles, poverty, discrimination based on ethnicity or religion, dangerous labour, displacement due to war, violence, school drop-out and early marriage.
With the continued support from The SOL Foundation, Girl Determined will be able to run and implement the “Colorful Girls’ Circles” by providing quality sports programmes using Volleyball with the primary goal to help create a younger generation of active girls and young women who have confidence and determination to take charge of their own lives.
Girl Determined is an US-registered not-for-profit, based in Myanmar and operates there with agreement from the Myanmar Ministry of Social Welfare.