Fellow: Vrushali Sawant
Grant Year: 2019
Location: Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Organization: The Naz Foundation (India) Trust
Project title: Tarangini (‘full of waves’ and ‘river’, India girl’s name)
Project summary: Adolescent girls from economically disadvantaged backgrounds in India have limited or no opportunities to play sports and miss out on their many benefits, including developing life and leadership skills, experiencing teamwork, and becoming comfortable in and connected to their bodies, which can be especially important during the emotional and physical changes of adolescence. Girls are restricted from access to public spaces to engage in sports activities, often due to families’ traditional ideas about what girls can and cannot do. The only place these girls can access free sports activities in a safe environment is at school. The Naz Foundation (India) Trust is building a movement of 4,000 adolescent girls who will claim their right to access equitable physical education at school by advocating with school authorities to enable them to participate in the physical education sports period, as required under the existing the Right to Education Act (2009). The Right to Education Act makes it mandatory for schools to allow children to participate in four physical education periods per week for children in grades 1-8, and two periods per week for students in grades 9 and 10, however, most schools either don’t have a sports period at all or do not promote girls’ participation in them. The Naz Foundation Trust’s strategy puts girls at the center and empowers 180 girl leaders to become agents of change and raise their voices to claim their rights in their schools, lives, and communities. They will develop a girl-led assessment and action plan to identify the problems and possible solutions to girls’ exclusion in school’s physical education programs and to advocate with parents and key decisionmakers in the Education Department. After one year, they aim to have 21 schools in Mumbai initiate the mandated four periods of physical education for girls under the Right to Education Act, making physical education accessible for 4,000 adolescent girls from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.