Generation Amazing, Josoor Institute and UCFB explore how sports and education foster gender equality in third instalment of webinar series
Generation Amazing, Josoor Institute and University Campus of Football Business (UCFB) recently delivered the third instalment of their ‘Inspiring Youth’ webinar series entitled: ‘How Can Sport and Education Drive Gender Equality?.’
The webinar explored the many challenges to gender equality and how empowering women through sports and education can address some of these challenges.
Professor Simon Chadwick, Director of Eurasian Sport at EM-Lyon Business School, moderated the discussion featuring Afraa Al Noaimi, Executive Director, Josoor Institute; Honey Thaljieh, Co-founder and former captain of the Palestine national women’s football team; Matthew Barrett, Founder, Goal Click; Dahlia Maarouf, Leadership and Development Specialist at Education Above All (EAA); and Anthony MacDonald, Senior Programme Manager and Head of Office in Doha, UNICEF Gulf Area Office.
After highlighting data on the significant employment discrepancies affecting women, particularly in terms of opportunity and vulnerability, Al Noaimi said: “Education empowers women to compete for better opportunities. It is the most important tool that we are using at Josoor Institute to create gender equality. By implementing the right education programmes, we give women a better chance to have equal opportunities with men.”
The speakers, who are proponents of inclusion and socio-economic equity in their respective fields, agreed that achieving gender equality requires a multi-faceted approach. These include, among others, investing in women’s education and skills, empowering women voices in decision-making and implementing policies and legislation that promote socio-economic equity.
Drawing from her personal experience, former Palestinian national team captain Thaljieh said: “Sport and education have great capacities to empower women. Both can help develop self-esteem for young girls and women, giving them the confidence to fight for their rights and become independent individuals. Sport made me the person I am today.”
She added: “If we want to give girls opportunities in sport and tackle the inequalities they face and foster diversity and inclusion, we need more women in decision-making positions that create policies addressing women’s issues. Football institutions can use their leverage to ensure that women have a seat at the table and that women’s football receives the attention it deserves not only in words but also in action, budget and resources.”
Goal Click Founder, Barrett, also stressed the importance of listening to women’s voices. He said: “COVID-19 has amplified many challenges at play, from infrastructure, investment, and facilities to cultural and social barriers, with the women's game suffering disproportionately. But football also provides an opportunity to highlight their stories, directly hear the voices of inspirational women and girls, and ultimately start to create a more equal world. Goal Click uses football as a powerful lens through which people can understand difficult issues around gender equality and women's rights.”
In providing such education or skills, EAA’s Maarouf emphasised the importance of contextualising programmes to the targeted beneficiaries’ situation.
She said: “With EAA’s Al Fakhoora programme we have seen first hand, if we provide marginalised youth in the MENA region with the right skills, knowledge and experience, that despite the daily challenges and obstacles they face, they can reach their full potential. The students understand that they are not simply recipients of aid, but rather the change makers to initiate and implement social enterprises for the benefit of their communities, and through their actions inspire others to do the same.”
During the discussion, MacDonald of UNICEF said: “Investing in girl’s and women’s empowerment and access to learning, skills and employment opportunities, particularly the most disadvantaged and those living in remote areas, is key to overcoming many of the socio-economic challenges in the region and optimising available human capital and financial resources”.
He added: “With UNICEF’s and its partners’ efforts in the last six years, there have been tangible and marked improvements in women’s and girl’s lives and in gender equality on the ground. It is with thanks to its partners around the world and in Qatar, like Education Above All, Silatech and others that we have been able to make these advances for children and we serve — those who are counting on us to support their hopes for the future”.
"The webinar addressed one of the most pressing issues of our age: how to ensure gender equality. There is no doubt that sport has the power to overcome the challenges that women and girls face. Hence, our discussion made a valuable contribution to understanding how this can be and is being achieved," Professor Chadwick concluded.
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