Adolescent Girl Life Skill: Navigating power and gender relationships
General Adolescent Life Skills: Advocacy
Adolescent girls need to understand and recognise how unequal power balances and community gender stereotypes might affect their development and the relationships around them. Girls who can recognise when the power in a relationship is unequal and unhealthy can address it earlier or get themselves out of the relationship before they experience abuse. (See International Guide to Addressing Gender-Based Violence Through Sport for more information.)
Girls can be exposed to positive gender relationships and the differences between healthy and unhealthy uses of power through sport programmes, helping them form alternative views that break and challenge these stereotypes. Sport highlights the strength of women, physically and mentally, and can introduce girls to positive male role models and positive uses of power that do not degrade, criticize, abuse and violate the rights of others. A match can show that if power and strength are used in positive ways on the field, the referee will not call a foul and your team has a good chance of winning. However, if power and strength are abused, then the referee will start calling fouls and there will be consequences.
We recognise that girls can’t always avoid or change these restrictive gender relationships and stereotypes, but by being able to recognise them, at least girls can choose to not adhere to them or be defined by them.
- In order for your sport programme to challenge stereotypes and fight against the use of power in unhealthy ways, it is important for the adults (coaches, facilitators and administrators) in the programme to go through some form of gender sensitivity training and be trained on organisational child protection and gender inclusion policies.
- As a coach, try not to restrict girls and boys to gender stereotypes when assigning roles and responsibilities (for example, girls wash uniforms and boys carry the heavy stuff). The same should go for coaches and other staff as well. Try to challenge these gender stereotypes in every session by reversing roles when possible for both boys and girls in every supporting activity.
- For model policies, see sample Child Protection Policy and sample Gender Inclusion Policy, and Gender Inclusion Self Assessment.