March 7th, 2014

Why I love this picture

I love this picture. It captures for me some of what Canaan Project is about.

I love the diversity represented. Every one of the girls in this picture has a different cultural heritage and therefore life experiences and expectations. Yet in this instance they are not being defined by their difference but by what they have in common. Its important to us that in such a multicultural society, that we create places where young women can embrace difference and the richness that it brings and also move beyond it, to be united by what they share.

I love the challenge to social norms that this image poses. A group of girls, playing basketball – a more commonly male sport, predominantly in skirts – non-typical clothing, in a space that is usually the domain of the boys. Not only this but also on a pitch that is right in the middle of their estate, overlooked by several tall blocks of flats and set beside the main thoroughfare running through the estate. We want young women to know that they don’t just have to observe from the fringes but have the right and ability to occupy centre stage as much as anyone else.

But perhaps what I love the most about the scene depicted here was how quickly the girls forgot their reservations and self-consciousness about breaking all these conventions. This wasn’t a deliberate protest about racial or gender inequalities but was a group of people pursuing an activity they enjoyed, with like-minded others, in a space that was convenient. If this event or the resulting image pose any challenge to potentially limiting social conventions it is only through the girls lack of regard for them. And that is one of our ultimate hopes for them, that they are free to uninhibitedly be themselves in a community where there is mutual acceptance and value placed on all.