Sport also inspires: by highlighting what people are capable of, it increases ambition, leadership, and hope for girls and young women. In development projects, it also helps to break down negative gender stereotypes and is a powerful entry point to engage communities in conversations around gender equality.
Through our work we intend to harness children’s love of sport. As people around the world are getting ready to celebrate football, we would like to highlight our projects in Benin, Nicaragua and Brazil where Plan International is active to advance children’s rights and gender equality through sport.
Benin – Stronger through sport
In the region of Atacora in Benin, girls gain confidence and respect on the football field. In a country where one in four girls has had a child and one in three girls has been married off before reaching their 18th birthday, this project supported by Plan International Belgium aims to raise awareness about girls’ rights, prevent early marriage and early pregnancy, and strengthen girls’ independence. Last year, 476 girls were able to live independently thanks to sport and access to microcredit and savings groups. With their own voice, they encourage their communities to fight for gender equality.
La League – Champions of change
In Nicaragua and Brazil, Plan International Netherlands addresses teenage pregnancy and child marriages by empowering girls through football. The project also engages fathers and boys in supporting girls and gender equality. Brazil has the fourth highest number of child marriages in the world and Nicaragua has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Latin America. The project combines social empowerment of girls and engagement of fathers and boys to change attitudes towards sexual and reproductive health rights. It also seeks to create job opportunities for girls. For Chaguinha, one of the football trainers involved in the programme, “La League shows girls that their place is not in the kitchen, but that they can pursue a career of their liking, might it be as a professional football player or something else. Women must be able to decide what they want to do in life and have the right to the same opportunities as men”.