Sports can change lives. But in many countries, girls and women do not have the opportunity, nor the support, nor the places to play. Reasons for this range from social norms and restrictions imposed by family, schools, and governments, to limited places to play or equipment to use, to a lack of images in the media. These elements can combine to keep girls and women on the sidelines in sports, and in their daily lives.
And, as a social welfare project and investment, sports are one of the most important elements that we can provide for girls and women. Girls and women not only get physical fitness and strength, but they create a sense of community, gain empowerment, face barriers, and then break through them to pursue wins on and off the field. Involvement in sports has been shown to increase levels of education and involvement in the workforce, elevate levels of income, and improve the lives of those involved.
Sports can and should be used and viewed as a vehicle to improve the social, physical, and psychological well being of girls and women.
This is why our work matters.
A Lack of Support
Minimal media coverage and minimal financial and social support is a reality for many girls and women in developing countries where cultural stereotypes delineate sports as an activity reserved for men. Historically, this lack of media coverage, and in turn role models, paired with limited funding and strictly defined gender roles, have combined to deter girls and women from participating in athletics in developing countries, and in high poverty and under served communities in the United States. Paired with a lack of resources, from limited places to play to not having equipment or clothing to play in, these barriers are keeping many girls and women from getting in the game. By focusing on telling these stories, and connecting those who lack funds and equipment with resources, we are are working to change this.
If You Can See It, You Can Be It - Filling the Media Gap
The images that are around us, influence and affect us. When girls and women do not see images of strong, empowered girls and women, this can create a negative affect. By producing a visual and written example of these girls and women who are playing sports and breaking the mold, this project creates images that fill a media gap. These stories, images, and voices are a call to get women and girls into the game, and to parents, spouses, and teachers, to demonstrate the power that can come from sports. These stories, images, and voices also aim to bring awareness to our communities, families, teachers, leaders, non-governmental organizations, governmental organizations, and corporations about the benefits that involvement in sports brings to girls and women, and a call for greater support and funding for sports for girls and women. Providing an opportunity for girls and women in developing countries to be exposed to sports opens doors to much more than just success on the field, it creates a space for girls and women to become agents of change and leaders.
Filling the Media Gap and Passing on the Power
By bringing these girls and women, and their stories into the public eye, we can make change. We can get more girls and women on to the fields, courts, and streets and create a different future on and off the field. These images and voices serve as a touchstone - a common vision or thought or experience, that others can lean on and learn from. We can create a new generation of girls and women by sharing these images and thoughts, and by showing that sports can serve as a social conduit for destroying social barriers that many times restrict the roles of women. And, by sharing the power of telling one's own story, and the skills of how to do it, we can empower the next generation of powerful women to be whatever they want to be: CEOs, politicians, scientists, mothers, journalists, lawyers, media makers, and leaders.
Cross Cultural Collaboration
When we share our stories, a bridge is made. By creating a space for girls around the world to share stories about their lives on and off the field, we are helping to build bridges across cultures, countries, religions, and sports. This cross cultural collaboration in conversation and in the form of financial support, is part of our mission. Because sharing and telling stories, is not the only part of the way that change happens.
More than Just a Game
Since many girls and women in developing nations, and high poverty, under served neighborhoods of the U.S., face more challenges than simply getting the ball passed to them - among them: filling the role of head of household, supporting families with limited resources, discrimination, and sexism, initiatives to include sports in the lives of girls and women lives can not simply provide a place to play, but should address issues such as education, familial and spousal abuse, health and AIDS/HIV education. We partner and work with organizations working in all aspects of development, because when sports and the empowering powers of play combine with education, training, and resources, the opportunities for girls and women to lead, become endless.