Across the world, women’s rights organizations are using sport to empower women and girls by building their confidence and self-esteem.
Sports can be used to develop skills at an individual level, but the participation of women in sport can also help create awareness by challenging cultural norms and stereotypes in a society at large.
“Sport can be an effective platform to provide women and girls with leadership skills they can transfer to other domains, such as civic engagement or professional life,” said UN Women Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri at the 5th IOC World Conference on Women and Sport, Los Angeles on 17 February 2012. “Sports programs have been successful at reducing restrictions and offering girls and women greater mobility.”
Gender inequality affects the social, economic and political position of women often making them second-class citizens. According to UN Women, between 15 and 76 percent of women are targeted for physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime and 50 percent of sexual assaults are committed against girls under the age of 16.
“Some of these girls are exposed to so much they aren’t accepted into the communities any more.” Astrid Aafjes, founder and CEO of Women Win, a global organization using sport as a strategy to advance women’s rights, tells MediaGlobal. Sport can be “a way to get out of isolation and to better address what they’re living.”