One in every six women in the country begins childbearing by the age of 19. In rural India, only 28% girls between the ages of 15 and 17 continue to be part of the education system (as compared to 47% boys).

Magic Bus: What we do

In a nutshell: At Magic Bus we move children out of poverty by mentoring them from childhood all the way to adulthood. We train mentors who deliver a sports-based curriculum to children through weekly sessions. Intentionally designed to include play and games, the sessions engage children,  and teach them life skills – covering topics about health, education and gender equality. This ensures that they make the right choices from childhood all the way through to better livelihoods as adults.

Impact:
Gender & Health:
Magic Bus sessions educate adolescent girls and their parents about the kind of foods they should eat to ensure that they do not suffer iron deficiency. The other areas of focused messaging on health also include menstrual hygiene, anaemia, iron & other necessary supplements, nutritious food etc.

Gender & Education: Magic Bus sessions reinforce the message that schooling is equally necessary for both boys and girls. There is a focused attempt by the organisation to get more girls into education and to increase their retention rate. Subsequently this aids in reducing child marriage as well as exploitation of the girl child (to a certain extent) as they are in a safe space within the school.

Gender & Right to Play: 100% of the sessions at Magic Bus involve girls and boys playing in mixed gender groups. In every session there is focused reaching out to and engagement with girls to encourage them to play, build their confidence, enable them to be comfortable collaborating with each other for work as well as socially. Letting them play in a male domain is another major move, even more so after puberty.

Impact through Numbers:
A study done by Praxis in 2010 on our program showed that there was more than a 10% difference between children from Magic Bus and those in the Control group in the following areas:

  • Having friends of the opposite sex
  • Playing team games together
  • Accepting that boys and girls are equally competent at sport 13

There was a difference of more than 25% between children from Magic Bus groups and those in Control groups in the following areas:

  • Working in mixed gender groups on community issues
  • Acknowledging that both genders make equally good leaders
  • Being aware that girls feel discomfort when subjected to eve teasing
  • Demonstrating respect for the body of another person

These differences indicate that children at Magic Bus are less likely to reinforce gender stereotypes with regard to roles, behaviours and attitudes. Since they tend to play and mingle socially, there is a greater understanding among them of each other’s individuality and ability and therefore a greater mutual respect.

Context: World Scenario

50-50The United Nations Population Division statistics reveal that 50% of the world’s population is female. In 2000, for every 100 females, there were 102 males.

Other statistics show however that the benefits of development do not reach out equally to both these halves of the population. For instance, women work 67% of the total world’s working hours but their earnings range from only 50-80% of men’s earnings. A miniscule number of women are in positions of political power- only 10% of representatives in national governments are women.

“Putting resources into poor women’s hands while promoting gender equality in the household and in society results in large development payoffs.” – World Bank

This implies expanding women’s opportunities in public works, agriculture, finance, and other sectors. This then accelerates economic growth, and also aids in mitigating the effects of current and future financial crises. It is therefore important to invest in processes that enable women to access services related to education, food and livelihood.

Context: Indian Scenario

In India the proportion of girls and boys enrolling in primary school is approximately the same. There is no significant difference in gender among children with regard to levels of anaemia, malnourishment or vulnerability to major diseases.

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However, as they grow into men and women there is a crystallisation of differentially available entitlements and a corresponding decline in the rights of women as subjects of their own lives with many being subjected to violence within the home, and more than half being restricted to their homes with no independent financial earnings.