Laureus celebrates International Women's Day

"Laureus Sport for Good's vision - 'Using the power of sport to end violence, discrimination and disadvantage. Proving that sport can change the world' - aligns closely with the International Women's Day's goal of forging a more inclusive, gender equal world.
In five of the six target areas on which Laureus Sport for Good focuses our resources - Employability, Education, Inclusive Society, Peaceful Society and Health - the question of gender is key. And during the planning of our strategy, during programmes meetings, during funding discussions with our partners and donors and during grant assessments, it is often noted that the sixth focus area - Women and Girls - can in many ways be seen not just as a focus in its own right, aligned to SDG5 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, but as underpinning all other areas of our work in a genuine and tangible way.
That is not just in the form of programming, but in encouraging diversity throughout our partner organisations, from beneficiaries to boards. It is in our research spend - for example in the ongoing study we recently commissioned into whether having more female coaches improves girls' participation and success at our projects. It is in our own Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning, and that of our partners. In that comes a recognition that we are far from having all the answers or getting everything right - but that we are determined to help the Sport for Development sector achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
International Women's Day calls for us all to #BeBoldForChange. Laureus Sport for Good is proud to work with projects such as Moving The Goalposts, Kilifi and OSCAR, who explain below what that means for them. We are determined to help them, and all our projects, continue to do more."
- Adam Fraser, Global Development Director, Laureus Sport for Good
Moving the Goalposts - What does it mean to be bold for change?
Picture a teenage girl in rural Kenya, having a difficult discussion with her father as he disagrees with her decision to join the local football team. Picture another teenage girl having a teary conversation with her mother about her preference for education over marriage. Now imagine these girls supporting each other through these trials and triumphing to overcome and fulfil their dreams. This is what being bold for change means to me, and this is why International Women’s Day continues to be relevant.
On Sunday, March 5th, 2017, Moving the Goalposts football team emerged victorious in the UN Global Goals Cup pools held in Nairobi, Kenya. The Global Goals World cup was started in 2015 when 193 world leaders committed to The 17 Global Goals for the next 15 years designed to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice and fix climate change in all countries for all people. Global Goal tournament mobilizes women globally to take this development agenda into their own hands. The team, playing in support of Global Goal 5, Gender Equality will be playing in New York in September, and showcasing the strength of women and girls. This team of eight girls, represents the over 8,000 girls playing football in rural coastal Kenya, and developing leadership skills, learning their reproductive health rights, receiving education support and financial literacy training through the programmes of Moving the Goalposts.
Through innovative approaches such as sports for development, we are creating a platform that enables girls to work together to claim their rights. It goes beyond organisations putting themselves in the position of agents, and handing over the agency to the girls and women who are then able to stand up for themselves and claim those rights.
Rachel Muthoga, Executive Director, Moving the Goalposts
Oscar – Goals for Girls
For Gulafsha Ansari, football is life.
She started playing football at the Laureus-supported Magic Bus programme at the age of nine. Growing up as a Muslim girl in Mumbai, football was not usually an option. Her supportive parents gave her the chance to play and she has not looked back since.
Gulafsha is from Dharavi, a region of Mumbai and Asia’s largest slum. Homes in Gulafsha’s community are constructed by hand using a combination of tin and tarpaulin sheets, and sometimes brick. Electricity and running water are a luxury, monsoons create floods and overcrowding is common.
Society in Dharavi teaches young girls to follow in their elders footsteps. Settle early, work in the home and provide for others. Gulafsha wanted to break from the norm, to be bold for a change. Her two older sisters were married at sixteen, and unlike many of her friends, her parents gave her the chance to play football. 
“In my community growing up, it’s seen that girls should study, get married and stay indoors to do the housework. People don’t think being outdoors and being active in sport is safe,” says Gulafsha.
Through sport, Gulafsha was given the freedom to communicate, make friends and challenge herself. Football has given her an opportunity to open her eyes to the outside world and find out what it has to offer.
“Football is special. It has given me a chance in life and I see it every day I train the other young girls, it helps them in school and it helps them in life,” she says.
Gulafsha’s involvement in sport has taken her around the world. In 2010 she travelled to South Africa as part of the FIFA World Cup, she visited the USA in 2011 to participate in a sports leadership academy, in 2012 she attended the Olympic Games in London and in 2016 she attended the European Championships in France.
The 21-year-old has completed her bachelor’s degree and is now a key member of the coaching team at the Laureus-supported Oscar programme, providing for others outside of her home and family. She has achieved this all through the confidence and life skills she acquired on the football pitch. Not only that, sport has also given her and other young girls an opportunity to be perceived as being on a level playing field with boys.
“We want to change perceptions,” says Gulafsha. “Girls should have the same opportunities to play growing up as boys. Football is a different direction, through football you can see the world in another way and make a positive change in your life.”
This year International Women’s Day 2017 is calling for people to #BeBoldForChange, for organisations and individuals, for men and women, to join forces by taking ground-breaking action that creates true change for women and girls around the world. At Laureus we are supporting our partners to do this every single day, using the power of sport.  Whether it is to empower girls to stay in education and avoid child marriage, or teaching boys and girls about gender equality, Laureus supported programmes are being bold and effecting change.

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