Girls, not Brides!

November 5th was a big day for Asha – she gave her first public talk in English. We’ve been practising for days and when finally D-day was here; she got a bit nervous 🙂

We were invited to speak at the conference “Changing the Game: Sports for Gender Equity and Ending Child Marriage”, a conference organized by Pro Sport Development and Girls, no Brides in Aerocity, Delhi.

Asha made a strong case by telling her story, how skateboarding has kept her away from being married and opened up so many new opportunities. She described her way of becoming equal to boys.

I feel she did really well … ,at the end of the video she is giving a short summary in Hindi.

Asha on stage

And here is the transcript:

Sports is an important medium. Sports is a medium of respect for both genders – male and female. When a boy and a girl play a sport together, they do not think if their group has more girls or more boys because everyone concentrates only on the game. And their main focus is simply to win, and they focus on their game. The gender doesn’t matter!

When I started skateboarding, I only had limited conversations with boys. But, as time went by, I increased my conversations with boys. When I wanted to learn a new trick, I stopped hesitating and I went forward to the boys and asked them to help me out. In this manner, my interactions with boys increased and we all became good friends. We were skateboarding together and we started considering ourselves as equal! We stopped gender discrimination amongst ourselves.

I am a skateboarder. Skateboarding has changed my life. I am a strong believer in the fact that sports teaches us the right way to live. When I first got on a skateboard, I fell but that didn’t stop me. I fell and I got up and got back on my skateboard. Again and again. Next time I was able to stand longer on my skateboard before I fell again. I fell a lot – but I never gave up and eventually I learned how to skateboard. In the same way, we keep stumbling in our lives. But we should not give up and try over and over again until we succeed.

This is what skateboarding has taught me.

Because of skateboarding I also got the opportunity to do many different things and to meet many new people. All these experiences have taught me a lot – both positive and negative and I have accepted all these learnings in the best possible manner. These learnings have made me the person that I am today.

If skateboarding hadn’t come into my life, I would be married by now and I would handle a family. Just like all the other girls in my village. When I started skateboarding my way of thinking changed. There are many girls in the village who have dreams. But they cannot live it because our society won’t allow them. I want everyone to fulfill their dreams. Each and every child deserves it.

This is why I’ve taken the responsibility at my young age of 20 to become director of our own NGO. The children of Janwaar have founded their own NGO. The name is The Barefoot Skateboarders Organisation.
Its purpose is to serve the children of our village. If our children do well I know our village will become a better place.

Thank you!

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