The winning goal

By Maria Shirazi
Tue, 08, 18

This week You! takes a look at the progress of Goal Programme that was launched in Pakistan in 2016, with the aim to empower women by providing them a combination of sports and life skills training...

This week You! takes a look at the progress of Goal Programme that was launched in Pakistan in 2016, with the aim to empower women by providing them a combination of sports and life skills training...

Research shows that by educating a girl you are empowering her and allowing her to build stronger economies and improve the overall quality of life. Though education is the first step, when it comes to women empowerment, one cannot ignore the importance of economic empowerment which is essential for sustainable development.

While there are numerous ways to empower girls, such as vocational training, skills development etc, recent studies show that women and girls' participation in sports is an important social and economic empowerment tool. In fact, sport is a vehicle to advance the status, liberty, and well-being of women and girls - especially in our part of the world where girls continue to face discrimination in access to sports as compared to men.

According to UN Women, "Sport has huge potential to empower women and girls. In many countries, it has been recognised that sport can be a force to amplify women's voices and tear down gender barriers and discrimination. Women in sport defy the misperception that they are weak or incapable. Every time they clear a hurdle or kick a ball, demonstrating not only physical strength, but also leadership and strategic thinking, they take a step towards gender equality.

There is good evidence that participation in sports can help break-down gender stereotypes, improve girls' and women's self-esteem and contribute to the development of leadership skills."

Following the same vein, there are many organisations, multinationals and banks that are taking initiatives in order to empower girls and women. However, one such initiative by Standard Chartered Bank is the 'Goal Programme'. Read on to find out about the programme and its progress since its launch in Pakistan.

What is the 'Goal' initiative?

'Goal' is an award-winning development programme created by the Standard Chartered Bank. It is primarily designed for girls aged between 12-18, who are living in underserved communities in three continents - Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The programme's curriculum has been designed by the bank in collaboration with the Population Council. Through a combination of sports and life skills training, the programme aims to empower and equip adolescent girls with the confidence, knowledge and skills they need to become integral economic leaders in their families, communities and societies.

This programme is delivered through Standard Chartered Bank's international NGO partner, 'Women Win', which is a strategic partner. Women Win further trained a locally selected partner, 'Right to Play, Pakistan', to deliver Goal and oversee the programme's monitoring and evaluation.

The 'Goal' programme in Pakistan is in line with Right To Play's mission to serve our great nation by preparing a generation which is better equipped with critical life skills such as leadership, team work, critical thinking and decision making.

Training curriculum

'Goal' works in urban communities, offering weekly sessions to adolescent girls who may or may not attend school and are subsisting on a low family income. The programme is typically offered on a weekly basis, over the course of ten months. Girls in the programme spend their time playing sport and participating in activities focused on learning a life skill. Girls who complete the programme and display exceptional leadership qualities are invited to become Goal Champions, who support programme implementation.

The initiative inspires girls to take their first steps towards becoming economically empowered young women and provide girls in Pakistan with the launching pad to reach their potential. The curriculum is based on four training modules. 'Be Money Savvy' focuses on financial education; 'Be Yourself' imparts communication skills; 'Be Healthy' builds knowledge on health and hygiene, and 'Be Empowered' helps in building girls' confidence and teaching life skills. In 2018, the new fifth module 'Be Independent' will be delivered to Goal girls in the 15 to 24 year age category. This fifth module provides practical experience and equips girls to be ready to generate their own incomes; by obtaining a job or developing their own micro-enterprise.

The progress so far

Goal was first launched in 2006 as a pilot project in Delhi and reached 70 girls. By the year 2017, the initiative reached 95,830 girls and aims to reach 85,000 girls, this year, which will bring the total number of girls (from 2006 through 2018) to more than 466,000 girls across more than 20 markets.

As far as the progress in Pakistan is concerned, since the launch of the programme in April 2016, the bank has reached a total of 2447 beneficiaries, exceeding the planned target of 1,765 girls across seven schools in Lyari. These include 1587 full Goal participants, 54 leaders and over 800 girls from the community. Starting off with seven schools, they have expanded and are now working in 12 schools - achieving more than the set target. By the end of 2018, the programme aims to reach an additional 2500 girls.

Success stories

This programme has certainly contributed in bringing about a change and empowering girls. Following are the success stories of three girls who have benefitted from this initiative.

Of saving and spending:

One example is of Afshan, who studies in grade 6 of Government Girls Secondary School, Bihar Colony. She keenly attended 'Be Money Savvy' sessions. It has not only helped her become aware of the dynamics of saving and spending but also improved her knowledge on how to effectively handle money. According to Afshan, the training has made it easy for her to save a certain amount and now she is consciously making an effort to spend her savings on her needs rather than her (at times unnecessary) wants.

Taking the lead:

Another success story is of Bareen, who is also a student of Government Girls Secondary School, Bihar Colony. There are very few people who have the confidence to lead, however being a good leader comes naturally to young Bareen. She has participated in numerous Goal sessions and has shown exemplary potential to learn and excel. Recognising her leadership talent, Bareen's coach appointed her as a junior leader and now she assists her coach and takes the lead whenever there is an initiative at school. During a recent session with the bank employees, Bareen put her leadership to the test. She confidently took the stage to explain in detail the importance of saving, spending and handling money and also assisted the staff in conducting their sessions.

Money management:

Similarly, Novishta is one such beneficiary of the programme, who studies in grade 8 at the Government Girls Secondary School, Wali Muhammad Haji Yaqoob. Novishta, who is also the prefect of her class, actively participates in the activities and has a clear understanding of money management and saving. Over time, she has become mature and has developed focused goals for herself - she wants to save money and buy things that she wants.

Future plans

Goal will deepen the impact of the programme to enable girls who give back to the programme as peer leaders and coaches to transition to employability, self-employment or, further education. This year, the project aims to scale up work readiness of pilots started in 2017, fund new innovation pilots and roll out the fifth module on employability and entrepreneurship. Pakistan is one of the markets that is piloting the employability module. Moreover, the future plans include mobilising resources by securing co-investment from the bank's private and local corporate clients and partnering to identify routes for girls' employment.

Positive impact of sports

Through sport, girls can:

  • Become physically stronger and healthier and develop a greater ownership and understanding of their bodies. If a girl considers her body her own, she protects it, cherishes it and demands that it be respected.
  • Develop critical life skills transferable to other spheres of life such as teamwork, goal setting, resilience and communication through constant practice.
  • Gain access to a safe space to grow and explore, especially related to physical, social and emotional development.
  • Connect with peers for social support - a vital reference point and resource for dealing with the challenges adolescence presents.
  • Gain access to a positive female role model in a female coach or team leader. This gives girls a vision of what is possible and a caring, supportive mentor to help navigate adolescence.
  • Have fun. It's so simple as all children have the right to play. Playing is important for every individual's development. The sheer distraction from pressure of growing up is an essential experience that we are all entitled to.