This unique study is the first to apply the human capability approach (HCA) to explicitly investigate gender role attitudes from the perspective of boy and girl participants in SDP. We believe it is vital to include voices of all participants to more critically examine how SDP might both challenge and reinforce restrictive gender norms. This paper is drawn from a research project for a doctoral thesis in Development Studies and focuses on adolescent participants, youth coaching trainees, programme facilitators and government administrators involved in SDP programmes in Barbados and St. Lucia (n=104). The primary author conducted surveys, focus group discussions, interviews and journaling to gather the data presented here and in the thesis. Using the HCA as a theoretical framework, we argue that these SDP programmes tend to integrate participants into masculinised, heteronormative forms of sport that may unwittingly reinforce restrictive gender norms for both boys and girls. In order to better support the capability development of all participants, SDP leaders must actively challenge restrictive gender role attitudes of masculinity and femininity.
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Despite the increasing popularity of sports-for-development programmes worldwide, little research has examined how these programmes shape gender attitudes, a key component of positive youth development. This study examines how participation in a sports-for-development programme in Senegal is associated with the gender equality attitudes of youth and coaches. A repeated cross-sectional design is utilized to examine how measures of gender equity and stereotypes among 87 youth and 32 coaches with no experience in the programme (Time 1) differ from the same measures among youth and coaches with at least one year of programme participation (Time 2). Findings indicated that youth endorsements of gender equity and non-traditional gender roles were significantly higher for some participants at Time 2 compared to the reported attitudes at Time 1. When compared to female youth, male youth reported greater endorsement of non-traditional gender roles at Time 1, with lower levels of endorsement reported at Time 2. Coaches’ gender equity attitudes did not differ significantly between Time 1 and Time 2. With minimal programme exposure, the LLP programme may potentially increase gender equity attitudes and decrease gender stereotyping among youth, particularly females in southern Senegal. Future sports-for-development programmes should increase programming prioritization of coaches, a group that appeared to show no benefit from the programme.