Let’s Play Fair – Cambodia
Deeply rooted in hierarchical and often restrictive culture, Cambodia faces gender inequality issues within education, health care and social status. Enduring traditional belief systems that suggest “proper” gender roles contribute to perpetuating gender inequity. Although more than 60% of Cambodians are less than 25 years old, limited attention is given to the needs of the youth population in regards to finding greater gender equality. Recognizing the deep and widespread challenge of finding greater gender balance, Cambodia’s government is calling for strategic activities that will empower women and girls and improve gender equality.
Recognizing that there are no shortcuts to behavior change, KPI works deeply within a single rural community over an extended period of time. KPI has partnered with the Spitler and Kurata Schools located in Ang Chagn Class, a small rural village outside of Siem Reap, Cambodia. Youth enter the program at age 7 and stay engaged through age 18, when they graduate. To ensure local investment, a locally-based KPI Program Coordinator trains young Cambodian leaders and school teachers as Let’s Play Fair Coaches to deliver gender and sports activities throughout the year. This unique, long-term interaction has proven to advance leadership skills and build sustainable gender equitable behaviors in participants and the broader community.
Gender Equity Coaches
In order to ensure local sustainability and program longevity, the Kids Play Cambodia team is guided by a locally-based KPI Program Coordinator and 16 young men and women specifically recruited to be caring adult role models. These community leaders have received intensive and interactive sport and gender equity training from Boston-based Edgework Consulting. Many Coaches are local school teachers, further contributing to local ownership and sustainability so that programs seamlessly become a part of village life.
With a long-term commitment to youth and their communities, Coaches deliver interactive activities throughout the year that help boys and girls aged 7-18 years old significantly advance their sports skills while learning how to better understand each gender’s contributions, both on and off the field.
The Spitler School Foundation and KPI are partners to facilitate programming in Cambodia. Established in 2005, the foundation provides primary education to children at the Spilter and Kurata Schools, located in Ang Chagn Chass, a small village in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Upon graduation, students can attend Stephen Muzujiuam Middle School, also supported by the Spitler School Foundation and Global Ade. Today, the foundation privides over 650 students with an education from kindergarten through 6th grade.
Students attend the Let’s Play Fair (LPF) program twice a week at the Kurata School (ages 7-12) and Stephen Mazujian Middle School (ages 13-18). Youth who participate in LPF are provided with the opportunity through a variety of sports to intensify supportive peer networks and to engage in more frequent and meaningful contact with peers of both genders, ultimately breaking down gender norms and misperceptions about women’s capabilities.
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