POSTED March 31, 2022
How young women are being empowered through soccer
Find out how girls’ elite soccer is crushing gender biases in Ethiopia
By Gezahegn Gebremaniam, communications manager, Ethiopia
A soccer ball hits the back of the mesh. Cheers rise at the score! The impact of the ball hitting the net is felt by the praising spectators and the young woman who kicked it, along with the players on her elite Ethiopia team.
Betselot (above), 23, turned a passion for soccer into a career. This is a difficult feat in a country where playing a sport involving the use of legs and feet is considered to be unacceptable for women and girls.
“I faced a lot of discouragement from my own family, my relatives and my community,” Betselot explains. “But, over time, girls playing football (soccer) is becoming more acceptable. We are now highly paid for the national women’s team. Clubs in the capital and regional cities, and families and communities, are becoming more supportive of a girl’s choice to play football.”
Ethiopia has long been a patriarchal society, where gender norms and rules favour men and boys. Both rural and urban women and girls are disadvantaged in social, economic and political spheres.
Children Believe programs challenge these deep-rooted gender barriers. They’re designed to empower women and girls, opening eyes to the possibilities of what both genders can accomplish. Soccer is one tool to dismantle barriers. Supporting girls’ soccer clubs and physical activity programs have had many positive impacts on Ethiopian communities.
Involvement in sport and physical activity has contributed to improved self-esteem and self-image among girls. It’s provided social networking and social integration for girls within their communities, reshaped ideas of femininity and masculinity, and challenged stereotypes labelling women as weak and inferior.
Children Believe-supported soccer programs in Ethiopia work closely with community leaders in local women’s, children’s and youth sports commissions and school and health offices to promote girls’ education and equality.
ABOUT CHILDREN BELIEVE:
Children Believe works globally to empower children to dream fearlessly, stand up for what they believe in — and be heard. For 60+ years, we’ve brought together brave young dreamers, caring supporters and partners, and unabashed idealists. Together, we’re driven by a common belief: creating access to education — inside and outside of classrooms — is the most powerful tool children can use to change their world.
About ChildFund Alliance:
A member of ChildFund Alliance, Children Believe is part of a global network of child-focused development organizations working to create opportunities for children and youth, their families and communities. ChildFund helps nearly 23-million children and their families in 70 countries overcome poverty and underlying conditions that prevent children from achieving their full potential. We work to end violence against children; provide expertise in emergencies and disasters to ease the harmful impact on children and their communities; and engage children and youth to create lasting change and elevate their voices in decisions that affect their lives.