"Mixed line thode na banaenge?" (“You expect us to form a mixed line of boys and girls together?”) This was the response from young girls and boys when asked to form a line, and they formed two separate lines, one of boys and another of girls.
These youth were participating in a Sports camp in Panipat, Haryana, conducted by the Martha Farrell Foundation (MFF) and the Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) as part of their programme, Kadam Badhate Chalo (KBC), in collaboration with Pro Sport Development. The Sports camp was held on December 12th and 13th 2016 at Manana Village's Government Girls' Senior Secondary School, and was attended by 80 youth (girls and boys) from 3 villages of Panipat - Manana, Titana and Namunda.
KBC is a an ongoing youth-led programme run by MFF and PRIA to end violence against girls and women that helps support and develop youth leadership among both boys and girls, providing them with tools of change which they can use to meet collective goals.
Panipat being an Industrial district, the youth are less educated, and crimes against women/girls are very high. Earlier studies conducted by PRIA in the district of Panipat have shown that violence such as child marriage and domestic violence are higher compared to other districts of Haryana. In this backdrop, it was certainly a big challenge for the KBC team to organize a 'mix gendered sports camp' where the girls and boys had clearly informed that they had never played together after their 6th grade.
On the first day of the camp when the youth were asked to make one big line, they invariably made two lines: one of boys and the other of girls. But after the first day of games like group juggling, line up, gender relay and beat the ball, the boys and girls came together to discuss plans and strategies to help their teams win.
Later that day, the youth were shown a film called 'Impossible Dreams', the film depicting the plight of a woman who struggles between her responsibilities at home and at work and how she wishes her husband to be her helping hand, the 'impossible dream'. The youth did not speak much on the first day regarding this issue, but on the next day the youth demonstrated their views and thought process in the form of a drama.
Two of the teams named their drama as 'possible dreams', which was indeed the start of a new beginning to many who participated in the camp. The last day culminated with the groups coming up with a way forward for their individual villages. The groups picked the issues - early child marriage, increasing substance abuse among youth and men, and the increasing drop out of school among girls - to work upon in their areas.