A girl living in a village or city slums is forced to leave school midway and help her mother in earning a livelihood. A young female employee is paid less than her male colleagues in many organisations. A teenage girl is rejected during team selection because her coach thinks, ‘girls can’t play football.’ And stand-up comedians cracking sexist jokes, WhatsApp forwards which are misogynistic in nature have become so normal that no one raises any objection.
The battle for gender equality is a continuous one and has given birth to many social reforms, feminist movements, marches and policies. One such programme has been launched by Vodafone India Foundation under its Solutions for Good initiative. Called the Girl Rising Game, the initiative leverages popular Match-3 puzzle game genre to empower users. The Girl Rising Game has released four playable stories and is available to download on Vodafone Game Store, Social App Hubs and Google Play Store, free of cost.
Engaging with the community
P Balaji, director, regulatory, external affairs and CSR, Vodafone India Ltd, believes that there is a need to address behaviour and mindset change towards gender discrimination practices. “When India has one of the largest young population and there are many state-led child education programmes, we felt there is a reason to engage with youngsters in a way that best resonates with them,” says Balaji.
With the increasing penetration of smartphones and popularity of mobile games, Vodafone Foundation and Girl Rising decided to connect with adolescents and youth using the power of storytelling. “This led to the development of Girl Rising Game, a unique android-based game that creates awareness about gender equality and empowers users to lead the change,” he quips.
When asked what kind of story-telling, narratives, interaction and visuals have been used in the game to help change the mindset, he says, “Girl Rising Game has adapted and gamified four real stories from Girl Rising flagship film — Woh Padhegi, Woh Udegi. It is a fun-packed Match-3 puzzle game that leverages mobile gaming to sensitise players on gender discrimination. The game divides girl stories into stages, with the help of gamified videos. It depicts the stories of three girls. Each stage of the game ends at a key event from the girl’s story with the help of short animated videos, where the player progresses by playing Match-3 levels.
On completion of the last event of the story, the player gets a quiz battle that questions the gender-stereotypes. After successfully completing the quiz battle, the player completes the story and can replay it to improve their scores. The player can switch from stories anytime and complete them at their own pace,” Balaji explains.
Gamifying real life stories
Girl Rising utilises powerful media tools to ensure both girls and boys are equally motivated and encouraged to pursue their dreams and aspirations. “To overturn years of gender-based discrimination, it is important that each one of us plays our role and ensures that mindsets such as ‘girls are not good at mathematics’ or ‘girls cannot play sports’, are not passed down from one generation to another. To ensure that we are able to speak to the masses and bring their attention to the many challenges girls and women face in pursuit of their dreams, we developed this unique mobile application with support from Vodafone Foundation India and had Girl Rising supporter and advocate Arjun Kapoor release it digitally,” says Nidhi Dubey, country representative, Girl Rising India Foundation.
Explaining how the interface works, and how it teaches the user/s lessons in gender equality, Dubey says that a user has the opportunity of learning various manifestations of gender-based discrimination through interactive quizzes.
“As a one-of-a-kind mobile application, we hope the game is able to raise public awareness on myths, and stereotypes and encourage users to become change agents in their own lives. Girl Rising’s film Woh Padhegi, Woh Udegi is based on real life stories of girls from across the world who have fought near insurmountable barriers to gain an education. The success of this film made its protagonists household names. These real life stories have been adapted for the mobile application and presented to the user. For each story, the user is shown country-specific visuals mixed with popular game formats such as Match3 and quizzes. Girl Rising Game offers an interactive, and engaging user experience,” she adds.
It is unfortunate that so many girls and women in our country still have to fight to have the same opportunities as their male counterparts. It is important that every individual contributes towards eradicating gender discrimination. Ending gender-based discrimination is something that I firmly believe in, the next time you or anyone else spots a form of gender-based discrimination, try to stop it. Achieving gender equality is not the responsibility of women alone; men must play their part too
— Arjun Kapoor, actor