Play like a girl | The Daily Star

Imagine a school that restricts the subjects that one could take according to their gender.

A school, where girls are not allowed to opt for math or physics as these are the more “masculine” subjects and the only way to access restricted subjects was to pay additional school fees on their own pace and at their own expense, after school.

As absurd as it may sound, this is the reality for many girls when it comes to physical education (PE) or sports classes in many schools. When it comes to accessing training to improve their skills in sport or activities in physical education classes, girls are usually left behind.

Often their recess is completely canceled once they reach a certain level, with little to no consideration for their possible aspirations.

“Until grade 6 we had a play class where we would go outside to play football or handball. But in grade 7 this class was replaced by tailoring lessons strictly in the girls’ buildings. The boys always had a designated period for sport It was incredibly unfair because I remember nobody in my class wanted to give up sport for sewing because nobody really cared about it, ”explained Fatima Jahan Ena, a former student at Maple Leaf International School.

Many girls we have spoken to believe that they are not treated equally with their male peers in contexts where everyone is supposed to have the same opportunities. They explained that they wanted to participate in the same activities as their male classmates, but their teachers told them they couldn’t because it was “for men” or “because you are a girl” or “because you are a girl” or “because you are a girl” or “because you are a girl”. that it’s not on the program. “

“We weren’t allowed to play on the pitch after 4th grade, the girls had to sit in class while the boys went out to play,” said Mithi Munzeleen Sarwar, who studied at Marie Curie school.

She adds: “We weren’t allowed to wear sports uniforms either because girls weren’t allowed to wear shorts.”

Sabrina Ahmed *, an alumnus of Sunnydale School, explained that she never even had the chance to explore her interest in sports because from an early age she had not had the same opportunities as his male peers.

Something as basic as sport should not be subjected to unnecessary gender roles. Sports promote good health, leadership skills, teamwork, independence and lifelong learning. You should not be deprived of it because of your gender. The field of sports practice becomes problematic when schools get into the habit of offering “girls ‘sports” or “boys’ sports”, and when they encourage boys rather than girls.

Teachers have the ability to influence the way students perceive the world around them through their lessons and behavior in the classroom. It is a privilege that must be used.

Farzeen Ghani, a recent A-level graduate, said: “I wasn’t allowed to play with the boys and the fact that I even wanted to play sports intimidated me. Since her childhood, she has been the subject of numerous discriminations because of her sports practice.

With no support from the school and no girls’ team to participate in, Farzeen had only herself to help him pursue his passion for basketball.

“I would go to the Gulshan Club after school every day with my basketball, sit and watch other people play. I didn’t have the confidence to go and play with them, or even in front of them. would come home and watch YouTube videos and learn on my own, ”Farzeen recalls. She did everything she could to maintain her love for basketball, despite not having a good coach.

Ultimately, Farzeen overcame the societal pressures that kept her continually from playing and is now part of Deshi Ballers, which strives to create a safe space for female athletes across Bangladesh.

Farzeen’s persistence was ultimately rewarded with opportunities, including the chance to be coached by Olympic gold medalist Ruthie Bolton, the chance to participate in an ESPN-hosted mentorship program and even play for the national team. of basketball. However, it is important to note that most girls do not receive the same privilege, even if they try to persevere.

“No girl should be told that she can’t play sports just because of her gender. Something has to change because girls are missing out on opportunities that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. this country for girls and women should be a right, not a privilege, ”insisted Farzeen.

The terrible experiences of PE are common among girls. A surprising number of girls shared similar stories of getting uncomfortable, not being allowed to try the same activities as men, being intimidated, or feeling inferior were common in each story. They all, in one way or another, felt that there was no point in trying or pursuing their interests any further.

It has become impossible to ignore the role that many schools have played as gatekeepers of physical opportunity and advocates of restrictive gender norms. Schools and instructors need to critically examine the environment they house and the lessons they teach through their actions, in order to bring about the change that is more than needed.

* The name has been changed on request.

All Nashrah cares about is breaking the patriarchy. Help her at [email protected]

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