“Sport brings people together and is an interactive way to address sensitive topics that women and girls face. We use sport as a tool because it takes away the phenomenon of having to sit in a room and just discuss harassment and abuse. My work involves planning debate sessions with youth who bring out issues that affect them in their communities like early pregnancies, rape and abuse, unfair treatment by parents or guardians who deem educating a girl child as a waste of time. These debates are also aired on radio for the different communities to listen to”, says Samantha Lukonde from Zambia.
Samatha is one of the participants who took part of the United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP) Youth Leadership camp in Doha, Qatar. UNOSDP launched the concept of Youth Leadership Camps in January 2012 and since then three camps have taken place in Qatar, Germany and Switzerland. The camps gather together youth who work in sport for development projects across Sub-Sahara Africa and Palestinian territories. During eleven camp days facilitators cover a multitude of thematic topics centered upon the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as well as other important topics such as the inclusion of persons with a disability and conflict resolution. One of the emphasized topics is also gender equality.
Vincent Hakizimana from Rwanda works for Esperance and took part of the second camp in Hennef, Germany. Vincent says that after the camp he understood the rights and opportunities that women and girls have. “In Esperance we are currently working with primary schools in Kigali and more than 30 girls from different schools come together to play football and to learn life skills and English three times a week.” Vincent mentions that they still struggle to convince all parents to allow their daughters to practice sports. Esperance has started to organize monthly meeting with the parents in order to prove that it is not only about playing sports but allowing their daughters to learn as well. “Part of the play is to focus on using practical exercises to fight against HIV/AIDS and other health issues such as Malaria. We also encourage girls to speak out about violence.”
Samatha Lukonde works for NOWSPAR. It is an organization that has centered itself as an advocacy organization on the rights of women and girls by creating awareness on their rights and also advocating for equity and equality for both men and women through physical activity and recreation. NOWSPAR has launched an advocacy programme called “SHEROES”. It is a campaign that identifies female role models in sport and teaches women and girls not to shroud in silence but to speak out for themselves and end the injustice they are vulnerable to. The campaign has given women and girls an opportunity to rediscover who they are and what it is that they want to do with their lives, says Samantha.
United Nations Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace, Mr. Wilfried Lemke says that the idea of the Youth Leadership Camps was conceived in order to support youth like Vincent and Samantha by giving them access to theoretical and practical training needed to improve both their projects and their own professional progress. Vincent and Samantha represent youth who have different kind of experiences working in their communities by using sport as a tool to do advocate gender equalities. They, as well as the other promising youth who have been chosen for the UNOSDP Youth Leadership Camps, have the desire to lead the positive change in their communities. After the camp former participants share strategies and promising practices via social media like Facebook. “Exchanging ideas and learning from each other’s experiences via social media is an excellent way to distribute the knowledge of sport for development and peace”, says Mr. Lemke. These youth are role models whose visions and experiences are worth sharing. They know how to implement their visions into action.
using sport as a tool to do advocate gender equalities.