January 29, 2015

Watch how football is helping girls in Nepal study and avoid child marriage

Ewan Watt

Online Editor, Theirworld

Kalita is a 16-year-old schoolgirl from Nepal. She was finding it hard to concentrate in the classroom and her parents were planning to marry her off.

Then she discovered football. When teachers asked if any of the girls were interested in playing, she immediately volunteered. Her friends laughed and Kailita said: "They thought that girls shouldn't play football."

Now the teenager from Solakhpu says that playing sport has "influenced my education". She added: "We are more focused on our studies. My friends say I am transformed because of sport."

UNICEF UK interviewed Kalita and her parents, who are happy that she is concentrating on her studies. 

Another Nepalse schoolgirl, Sabita, 13, said: "Sport has been good for me. It has helped with my education as well as my body."

She wanted to avoid the fate of her sister, who was married off while young. Now Sabita's parents want her to study hard and fulfil her potential. She added: "If girls are educated then everyone will be educated. Society will develop."

In Nepal, 94% of children enter primary education - but only 72% are still in school by grade eight - according to a 2014 report by the Global Partnership for Education. The female literacy rate in the country is only 57%, compared to 75% for men.

Find out more about the issues surrounding child marriage.

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