Play for Change (PFC) has been working in the Lamjung District of Nepal, a country with low human development and facing multidimensional poverty. PFC is delivering the ‘Khelaun Khelaun’ sport for development programme to strengthen, develop and up-skill children and their communities who were devastated by the 2015 earthquakes. The programme, in its second year, has begun implementing new and innovative ways to tackle the gender gap as a response to the existing lack of equality between men and women in Nepal.
It is well documented that sports programmes can tackle problems around gender inequality, post-disaster and economic development. Government officials have praised the ‘Khelaun Khelaun’ programme which interlinks sport to improve health, education, employment and inequality outcomes, which are intrinsically linked to human development and poverty. In its first year ‘Khelaun Khelaun’, working closely with the community, has enabled 40 local people to be trained and employed, whilst creating an infrastructure for badminton and volleyball leagues for over 5,000 children from 44 schools.
Nepal being ranked 110th of 144 countries on the Global Gender Gap Index 2016, means that women (as half the population) is the most disadvantaged group in terms of economic participation, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment. Thus, women and girls are likely to continually be disproportionately affected by the double earthquakes that happened in 2015, for example a higher risk of sexual and gender based violence due to strained households.
So far ‘Khelaun Khelaun’, carefully designed to be inclusive, has ensured that a large proportion of the children involved in the sports league are female. PFC promotes equality and places a strong emphasis upon girls and boys learning to collaborate and play together; already it has been observed that the girls are displaying higher levels of confidence because of this.
As ‘Khelaun Khelaun’ evolves into its second year, the PFC team have begun advancing the female empowerment aspect, which is made possible by the funds raised at the TV Sports Awards 2016, PFC’s annual fundraising event. Following recommendations by the local Nepal PFC Team, female empowerment is especially important to the aims of the programme, this is because women remaining in the community have the most influence on the children. Therefore, if the mothers are educated and involved in sports it breaks down the existing barriers and builds a sporting culture.
PFC has now formed an important partnership with the Community Learning Centre to activate women’s groups and deliver community and sport activities. Women will be able to attend empowerment activities such as issue based workshops, yoga and Zumba classes, training on running the community gyms and assisting the PFC team in the sports activities. The groups aim to give women the tools and confidence to actively engage in their community which in turn contributes to helping improve their position in society.
Schools from the ‘Khelaun Khelaun’ programme will also have ‘Gender sensitisation’ classes, delivered to parents and children to further nurture and spread progressive attitudes towards females, this will be delivered over 2 years.
The high praise the ‘Khelaun Khelaun’ programme has received is due to its innovation and focus on tacking problems from the core. Economic empowerment and life-skills have already been improved by enabling new job opportunities and providing expert coaching, which has included training from the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball. Other benefits of the programme include creating community gyms, building and restoring schools’ facilities, providing first aid equipment and training local people, some of which made possible by the TV Sports Awards 2016 funds.
Play for Change aims to create effective change for children and their communities through sport and it is fundamental that programmes are carefully designed and delivered with the community to ensure sustainability and local capacity building. Meaningful participation of women in this is especially important to realize the rights of such disadvantaged groups and improve the detrimental cycle of female inequality, which in turn will help improve the poverty and wellbeing of the people in Nepal.
 Human Development Reports, United Nations Development Programme: http://hdr.undp.org/en/countries/profiles/NPL
 MPI Country Briefings 2016, Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI): http://www.dataforall.org/dashboard/ophi/index.php/mpi/country_briefings
 Office on Sport for Development and Peace, United Nations: https://www.un.org/sport/content/why-sport/overview
 The Global Gender Gap Index 2016, World Economic Forum: https://www.weforum.org/about/world-economic-forum
About Khelaun Khelaun (which means Let's Play in Nepali):
The Khelaun Khelaun programme is delivered in partnership with Global Action Nepal. The introductory of the women’s group, gender sensitization classes, new sports kits and first aid kits have been funded by donations from the TV Sports Awards 2016. The core programme is funded by UEFA Foundation for Children.