Understanding Indo-Fijian girls’ experiences in sport, physical activity and physical education: an intersectional study

Rohini Balram
Bonnie Pang
Jorge Knijnik

Whilst other sporting narratives of girls and women from the Global North have been well explored, there is limited research about girls from a Fijian background. Furthermore, within this ethnic/cultural group, their diverse voices are not well understood. Indo-Fijian girls who are of a South Asian background, and were born and reside in Fiji, are marginalised to a triple degree in the country’s sporting platforms: they face gender inequalities emanating from a patriarchal society; secondly, they are marginalised in terms of race and ethnicity, thus not having access to the same sporting opportunities that their iTaukei (Fijian natives) counterparts do, especially in mixed-race team sports. Finally, Indo-Fijian girls are economically disenfranchised, living in the peripheries of the Global South, where they struggle with a lack of funding, inequitable policies and an unstable political climate. This triple layer of marginalisation deprives Indo-Fijian girls/young women of real opportunities and rights in the sporting fields to play sports for better health and fitness as equal Fijian citizens. This study reports on a one-year ethnographic research and presents sporting narratives of young Indo-Fijian women aged between 16 and 25 years from the capital city of Fiji. The data was collected employing photo-elicitation interviews aiming to illuminate the experiences and trajectories within formal and recreational sport and physical activity of Indo-Fijian girls. The paper draws upon critical, intersectional and poststructuralist theories to thematically analyse the data. The young women’s narratives reveal that many times their athletic pursuits and passion disrupt the Fijian gender, racial and class orders as they consistently exercise their daily and sporting agency; sometimes these girls also find themselves complying with the hegemonic gender/racial order. This study amplifies local and marginalised voices of Indo-Fijian girls and emphasises the urgent need for inclusive and innovative educational pathways for Indo-Fijian girls in Fiji’s schools, thus fulfilling the country’s ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

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Research Type(s)
Journal Article
May 16, 2024
Published in

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