Frontline Stories

Kicking Gender Stereotypes Out

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A group of girls at one of World Vision’s Child Friendly Spaces in South Sudan are challenging gender stereotypes… by playing football.

Many girls in South Sudan are flung quickly into adulthood. The country has one of the lowest enrolment rates of girls in secondary school – and only 8% are able to finish their education. Over half of all girls here will be married before the age of 18.

But this football team wants to show their community – and themselves – that girls can be powerful too.

One team member, 18-year-old Dina, said she felt playing football had made her “stronger”.

“Football makes me very happy. When I play, I don’t think about anything else, I just concentrate. When I go to school, I can concentrate better too,” she said.

Dina’s mother Magline was just 13 years old when she was forced into marriage. She is determined that her three daughters will not suffer that same fate.

“It wasn’t my intention to get married. I didn’t want to get married, but I had no choice,” says Magline. “I decided that my children must go to school. I don’t want them to be like me. I cannot read or write. I want my children to have a different life than the one I have lived.”

Playing football has helped the girls’ confidence grow and despite standing in the face of continued gender discrimination they believe that change is possible.

“Boys and girls are able to do the same thing. Girls can play well, sometimes even better than boys,” says 14-year-old Margaret, a midfielder.

“I want to be as good as the boys,” Dina said. “No, I want to be better than them”.

Football is one of the many activities at World Vision’s Child Friendly Spaces, where thousands of children are provided a safe place to play and express themselves every day.

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