Apnalaya works in the most underserved and marginalised slum settlements in the city of Mumbai. The young girls of Shivaji Nagar in particular, have had the odds stacked against them – with gender and social norms restricting their education, their movement, their attire and every aspect of their lives.
To empower adolescent girls through imparting training on Life Skills, Apnalaya launched a programme, Khula Aasman, in 2016 where All-Girl Kabaddi teams are formed and coached by mentors from the community. This programme has seen enthusiastic participation from the young women of Shivaji Nagar, who continue to break gender stereotypes and reclaim public space. Khula Aasmaan not only targets the girls themselves, but also their families and the wider ecosystem in the community to break social barriers and normalise a regular youth activity, which is ‘play’.
“In the community, when we spoke to parents regarding Kabaddi, they stated that it should not be played in this community, that girls shouldn’t be playing sports. We faced a lot of resistance, even if the mother and brother agreed, the father would not, but we are trying our best to change that,” Farheen, a Khula Aasmaan mentor said.
In this regard, Apnalaya’s CEO, Arun Kumar was part of a panel discussion on “Mitigating Backlash and Empowering adolescent girls” conducted by Dasra at Jharkhand on 15th November 2019.
“Apnalaya tries to ensure that the girls don’t have to face backlash alone by creating a supportive ecosystem and working with all stakeholders involved,” said Arun Kumar, during the panel discussion
The panel discussion took place at the dissemination of the Dasra 10to19 Community of Practice on Adolescents (CoP) first research report Action Reaction: Understanding and Overcoming Backlash Against Girls’ Exercise of Agency in India.’