Ask just about any teenage girl in Yangon, Myanmar’s commercial capital, and she will tell you she would rather have been born a boy. In 2008, Girl Determined’s co-founders began gathering girls together in informal meetings to understand more deeply their particular needs, given the context of a country of 55 million people, coming out of half a decade of military repression. Two years later the first girls’ leadership circles were launched. Girl Determined has since reached out to adolescent girls aged 12-17 from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds in rural and urban communities across the country with weekly programming that increases girls’ ability to participate in their world.
Women Win and Girl Determined started working together in 2014 to integrate sports activities into Girl Determined’s programming. Now hundreds of girls come together in weekly Colorful Girls’ Volleyball Circles to grow their access to education, health knowledge, critical thinking skills, and personal development. While struggling with restrictive gender roles, poverty, dangerous labor, violence and early marriage, Volleyball Circles provide opportunities for girls to gain skills and confidence to assert their needs and develop plans to improve their lives. Girl Determined is the exclusive organization in Myanmar sparking a movement of girls with leadership skills to advocate for their own rights and a future that does not re-create the risks they now face. Women Win and Girl Determined continue to collaborate in order to expand Volleyball Circles to reach more girls, while adding innovative components such as sport sector partnerships, girl-led research and reaching most-marginalised girls.