Moving the goal posts for girls

Article Date

01 December 2011

Media Contact

Anne McPherson

Vice President, Global Communications email [email protected]

The role of sport in international development and in promoting gender equality continues to grow. Just this year, the United Nations’ Sport for Development and Peace International Working Group inaugurated a new thematic area dedicated to gender and sport, which focuses on three priorities: empowering women and girls, including them in sports and providing them leadership opportunities.

Many of those themes are being discussed Dec. 1 to 3 during the Maidan Summit 2011, the second annual Sport for Development (S4D) international meeting in New Delhi. The gathering brings together policy makers, donor agencies and nongovernmental organizations to advocate for sports as a tool to strengthen education, health and communities in India.

Ravi Verma and Madhumita Das of our Asia Regional Office in New Delhi will be right in the thick of it, and rightly so. They have already put theory into practice with our Parivartan program in Mumbai, helping prove that sports, development — as well as gender rights and equality — go hand in hand. In Parivartan, cricket coaches double as role models and mentors for young men and boys. This includes encouraging the young cricketers to respect girls and women, promote gender equality and to not use violence against women now or in their future adult lives.

Verma, ICRW’s Asia Regional Office director, spoke on an opening day panel of the summit that focused on how athletics can help empower women and girls and include them more in society. On Dec. 2, Verma and Das will lead a workshop to examine how sports can to promote gender equality and the role of coaches in bridging the gender gap in sports in India. In her presentation, Das, a senior technical specialist, will highlight the successes of the Parivartan cricket program.

“There are lots of initiatives where organizations are trying to bring women into sports and encourage them to take it on as a profession. But most organizations are finding it difficult because there are more barriers than they expected,” said Das, who underlined that coaches, too, have a part in making the sports field more inclusive of women and girls — both on the playing field and on governing bodies.

“We need to work with men so that these barriers are tackled.”