Jharkhand state in north India ranks 27 out of 30 in India for female vulnerability, with 50% of school age girls not in school, 60% of girls becoming child brides and female illiteracy at 45%. Rates are higher in rural areas.
YUWA has 300 of the most vulnerable girls in India playing football every morning, with 41 female coaches. 90 of those girls also attend a school set up by YUWA, taught in English by world-class educators from India and abroad.
Alongside football coaching and tournaments for the girls, the programme involves training sessions for the coaches, providing them employment skills and training on empowered female leadership. As most Yuwa coaches are paid, the girls can use their salaries to pay their school fees and avoid child marriage.
They also run weekly life skills workshops on a range of topics including financial literacy, child marriage, female health and nutrition and run programmes for the families of the girls.
The impact of this work is remarkable. By playing sport, achieving qualifications and learning to speak English fluently, combined with self-belief and ambition, YUWA girls are radically changing perceptions in rural Jharkhand of what a village girl can do.
Hundreds of the most vulnerable girls in the world have been enabled to overcome serious and endemic sexual violence and discrimination.
In a context where males and females seldom leave their villages, let along their state, more than 30 YUWA girls have spoken at universities, TEDx events and conferences and travelled across India and abroad.
And in a context where 60% of girls are child brides, 100% of YUWA girls have managed to avoid being coerced into child marriage.