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MIFUMI believes in the power of building communities into movements to effect social advocacy. This is the philosophy that drives MIFUMI’s Sports for development initiative, which is targeted at young girls and boys in schools, through the organisation’s Sure Start program.
Through this programme, MIFUMI specialist gender and sports trainers engage the girls in activities and discussions that actively challenge the oppression girls feel that range from subordination to gender norms which prevent them from exercising their full potential. This programme is aimed at building the confidence and agency of girls as leaders; and creating opportunities for girls to participate and make decisions in private and public spaces.
Conceived in 2002 as the Young People’s Project, the program supports girls to build strong networks of peers in their communities, schools and environments, to challenge violence, abuse and grow their leadership skills and confidence, and above all, stay in school.
Sure Start undertakes a series of activities;
- Training on gender and rights – Here girls are trained on gender issues which are central to girls understanding the power they have to change their situations. This self-awareness makes them more confident to tackle issues that they thought they had no say over before. Knowledge on violence, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and legislation affecting girls is also imparted.
- Karate training – Participating in karate breaks stereotypes about girls’ participation in sport and indeed a sport considered very masculine and therefore out of bounds to girls. Girls excelling at karate gives them the confidence to venture into other areas that may be considered the preserve of men and boys for example leadership.
- Mentorship – Because many girls do not have access to female role models that can inspire, they may not have ambition beyond the traditionally prescribed markers of success for women and girls. The mentorship programme allows girls to interact with upstanding women within the community who offer advice on how to navigate school and life and how to build careers.
- Exchange visits – Many girls in the program only have experiences limited to communities in which they live and go to school. Exchange visits give the girls an opportunity to contend with new environments and ideas. This challenge to question beliefs that they may have held before. Exchange visits also creates social capital as the girls make friends with girls from different backgrounds from whom they can get advice or work with towards a common cause.
- Karate and Leadership camp – The annual Sure Start karate and leadership camp is the program’s flagship leadership training initiative. Here, Trainers of Trainees undergo a two week comprehensive and rigorous leadership and karate curriculum. They are then tasked to deliver this training to their peers.
Safe School Environments
Under MIFUMI’s Safe School environments campaign, MIFUMI works with schools and key local authorities in communities to ensure that girls are protected and are not made to experience situations that affect their ability to stay in school. The strategy is to ensure the right combination of policies exist in school and out of school communities to protect girls, and that the people with the responsibility to enforce those policies take their responsibilities seriously.
This strategy involves tailored advocacy campaigns, targeted at schools, key duty bearers and various forms of media agencies.