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Colombian girls are not encouraged from playing sport due to gendered roles that idealize girls as “delicate” and reserve sport as an activity for boys. Since the early and mid-2000s girls living in two marginalized communities in Colombia have had the unique opportunity to participate in a sport for development and peace organization. Drawing on six months of ethnographic research, this paper explores how these young women are negotiating gender through their complex and limited participation in the organization. We argue these young women display an ambivalent position towards femininity and practice implicit feminism, which challenges gender norms. However, despite their feelings of agency and a creation of a “new” normal within their social bubble, evidence reveals traditional social structures continue to maintain the gender status quo.
Sarah Oxford and Fiona McLachlan are with the Institute for Health and Sport (IHES), Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia.