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Survival Girls

Develop a program that teaches girls survive-and-thrive skills in the face of natural disasters

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EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

Research has shown that when floods and storms hit, women and girls often die in higher numbers than men and boys because they are not able to swim or climb to safety. We want to design a program that would teach girls in areas prone to flooding these skills. This would entail physical instruction, such as developing physical strength and particular skills, such as swimming or climbing. In addition, in some places social and cultural factors contribute to prevent women and girls to get to safety, such as limits on their mobility outside of their homes or their responsibility to take care of dependents. Therefore, the program will also entail a socio-cultural, educational component that would make it acceptable for women and girls to think about their own safety. This begins with their ability to attend instruction classes. Other factors to take into account are clothing and safe and appropriate spaces to practice. In the long run, girls who have these skills could assume leadership roles and teach others. In addition, children of mothers who can swim are also more likely to swim themselves, so there could be a positive trans-generational effect.

WHO BENEFITS?

The program would benefit girls in urban slum areas prone to flooding, by teaching them skills (physical and psycho-social) that would allow them to escape from life-threatening situations. We are exploring a number of different options of where to implement the idea at the moment, and are welcoming any input from the challenge community on this.

HOW DOES YOUR IDEA TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE CONTEXT OF URBAN SLUMS AND CLIMATE CHANGE?

Our idea takes into account a number of the design principles. Teaching girls concrete survive-and-thrive skills would strengthen their everyday resilience by building their confidence in their own abilities. It would allow them to swim through the storm of everyday stresses they face in their lives. Our idea also designs for gender equality. Once we have settled on a place where to implement the idea, it will be important to consider the system and work with other people and organizations, beginning with parents, potentially schools and community organizations. All of these have to contribute to creating a situation where it is acceptable for girls to think about their own safety and have the skills to ensure it.

TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF

We are an inter-disciplinary group of faculty and students at the University of Sussex, interested in applying our knowledge as anthropologists, sustainable development researchers, designers, engineers and information systems specialists to challenge inequality, poverty and marginalization.

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I am genuinely curious as to the reason behind the research of why women and girls die in higher numbers than men and boys. You mention social and cultural factors. Is a main reason a difference in physical strength or confidence?

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