SPORT: GREAT DRIVER OF GENDER EQUALITY IN AFRICA
Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.” (5th of the Sustainable Development Goals)
Sport has the potential to serve as a powerful tool for advocating and raising awareness about gender equality in Nigeria. It can contribute to breaking down societal and cultural barriers that discriminate against women and girls at all levels. At ACYSD, we believe in the transformative power of sport, which is why we have developed the Power Up Girls® campaign. The campaign aims to promote gender equality and empower women and girls both within the realm of sport and in their communities through sport.
Throughout history, sport has consistently proven to be a driving force behind gender equality. It teaches women and girls the values of teamwork, self-reliance, and resilience. Sport provides a platform for girls to form social connections and find solace from violence in their homes and communities. It also helps them understand their bodies, build confidence, and develop the ability to speak up. Unfortunately, many girls face pressure to conform to traditional gender stereotypes, which often leads to their abandonment of sports. Our goal is to eliminate these barriers and create an environment where all girls can thrive.
In Nigeria, as in other parts of the world, sport is still plagued by gender inequalities such as unequal pay, gender-based violence, inadequate investment, and negative stereotypes. Sport, particularly sport-based community programs like Power Up Girls®, is designed to challenge and shift these harmful gender norms and promote gender equality.
It is essential to engage men and boys in the pursuit of gender equality within and through sport. Sport has the potential to foster better gender relations and cooperation. By leveraging our partnerships and involving men and boys, we can collectively address the issue of gender-based violence, both on and off the field. Together, we can work towards a future where all playing fields are truly level for women and girls, and where gender-based violence has no place in any aspect of our lives.
Join us in harnessing the power of sport to drive gender equality in Africa. Together, we can create a society where every individual has equal opportunities and where women and girls can thrive and succeed.
PROTECTING OUR GIRLS FROM SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN SPORT
Sexual harassment, including unwelcome advances, requests for sexual favors, and other forms of inappropriate conduct, is a significant issue in sports. It can occur as a separate act or be part of a broader pattern of abuse. Romantic or sexual relationships between coaches and athletes are considered a breach of professional ethics, status, and power dynamics. Sexual harassment in sports not only discourages girls and women from participating but also hinders their development as athletes.
At ACYSD, we recognize that sexual harassment exists in the world of sports, and we are committed to preventing its occurrence through the establishment of a comprehensive policy and position statement. Our stance on sexual harassment and relationships between coaches and athletes is as follows:
- Sexual harassment and sexual relationships between coaches and athletes undermine the mission of sports organizations and educational institutions, which is to provide leadership and resources to enhance the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of all females involved in sports and fitness activities.
- Sexual harassment diminishes the self-esteem of women and girls and limits their ability to reach their full potential in sports. It impairs their future opportunities for athletic participation and their pursuit of employment and leadership roles within the field. This not only affects the individuals involved but also deprives society as a whole of the contributions and achievements of these women.
- Consensual or sexual relationships between coaches and athletes erode the professionalism of coaches, disrupt the atmosphere of trust and respect between coach and athlete, and hinder the overall educational mission of athletics. ACYSD firmly believes that engaging in such relationships, even if seemingly consensual, is unethical for coaches who have authority over athletes under their supervision.
We acknowledge that sexual harassment occurs in sports, as it does in other institutional contexts such as government, religious organizations, or the workplace. To effectively address cases of sexual harassment in sports and prevent future abuse of women athletes by coaches, we have developed policy guidelines and procedures. These include regular training and distribution of the policy, ongoing evaluation of its effectiveness, and prompt and appropriate responses to incidents of sexual harassment.
At ACYSD, we are dedicated to fostering a safe and supportive environment for all athletes, particularly girls, by taking a strong stand against sexual harassment. Through our policies and ongoing efforts, we aim to protect the well-being, dignity, and rights of female athletes and ensure that they can fully enjoy their athletic pursuits without fear of harassment or abuse.
Download Our Sexual Protection Policy Document
VOLUNTEERING: CREATES VALUE FOR ALL
Volunteering is all about giving back without expecting anything in return, whether it’s in the form of money or material goods. According to the United Nations Volunteer (UNV) programme, volunteerism can be classified into four categories: campaigning or advocacy, civic participation, service to others or philanthropy, and mutual aid or self-help.
In Nigeria, youth volunteerism has a rich history dating back to pre-colonial times when community leaders encouraged young people to assist one another in various tasks. These words of wisdom from the elders led to the formation of youth groups that voluntarily took on projects such as building community squares, cleaning markets, cutting grass, and organizing village wrestling events. These initiatives not only contributed to the overall development of the community but also fostered stronger bonds among its members and provided economic benefits to the participating youth.
In today’s world, the significance of volunteerism has grown even more. Encouraging Nigerian youth to engage in volunteer work is synonymous with promoting self-reliance, enhancing their decision-making abilities, and increasing their involvement in nation-building. Developed countries like the UK and Canada have consistently demonstrated the positive impact of volunteerism on individuals and society.
With approximately 70% of Nigerians living in extreme poverty and 65% of Nigerian youth below the poverty line, while the unemployment rate continues to rise and has reached alarming levels of up to 40%, volunteerism presents a great opportunity for job creation. In the USA alone, Independent Sector reports that 9 million full-time jobs are directly and indirectly created from volunteer activities. What has worked in the Western world can also work here.
Volunteering not only provides much-needed support to communities and organizations but also equips individuals with valuable skills, experiences, and networks that can enhance their employability and contribute to personal growth. It promotes a sense of belonging, instills a spirit of empathy and compassion, and fosters a culture of civic engagement and social responsibility.
At ACYSD, we believe in the transformative power of volunteerism. We strive to create opportunities for Nigerian youth to engage in meaningful volunteer work, enabling them to make a positive impact on their communities while developing skills that will benefit them personally and professionally. Join us in building a brighter future through volunteering and be part of the movement for positive change in Nigeria.
Together, we can create value for all through the power of volunteerism.
DESTROYING THE TOP 10 AFRICAN MYTHS ABOUT WOMEN IN SPORTS
- Myth 1: Women’s Empowerment Comes at the Expense of Men
- It is a common misunderstanding in many parts of Nigeria that empowering women means men lose out. However, when Nigerian women are given opportunities for education, entrepreneurship, and career choices, they contribute significantly to the economy and the well-being of their households. Women’s empowerment benefits everyone.
- Myth 2: Women Can’t Do Sport
- Sports should be inclusive and accessible to all. In fact, more women than men participate in sports each week. We advocate for narrowing the gender gap in sports and ensuring that African women have equal access to and benefit from sporting activities, just like men.
- Myth 3: Women Crack under Pressure
- Let’s take the example of Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, known as the “Iron Lady.” Despite facing challenges and opposition, she fearlessly led her country, proving that women can excel under pressure. Women like her have shown resilience, leadership, and the ability to drive positive change in the face of adversity.
- Myth 4: Sport Hinders Childbearing
- Engaging in vigorous sports activities does not necessarily affect a woman’s fertility. In fact, staying physically active can improve fertility, particularly for women facing obesity-related challenges. Women can continue their level of sports activities during pregnancy and beyond without hindering their ability to have children.
- Myth 5: It’s a Man’s World
- Women are occupying significant positions of power and leadership worldwide. From presidents and prime ministers to heads of major financial institutions, women are proving their capabilities and challenging traditional gender roles. As technology continues to level the playing field, qualities associated with women, such as emotional intelligence and collaboration, are increasingly valued in leadership positions.
- Myth 6: She Asked for It
- Blaming survivors for sexual violence is unacceptable. No one “asks” or deserves to be violated. This myth perpetuates harmful stereotypes, restricts women’s behavior, and shifts the blame from the perpetrators to the victims. Sexual violence is solely the responsibility of the perpetrators, and we must challenge this myth to create a society free from gender-based violence.
- Myth 7: Women Can’t Be Trusted with Money
- The notion that women are frivolous with money is a baseless stereotype used to oppress women. Financial education is essential for all women, and when equipped with the right knowledge, women can make sound financial decisions that benefit themselves, their families, and their communities.
- Myth 8: A Woman’s Health is not a Man’s Concern
- Menstruation and pregnancy are natural aspects of women’s lives and should not be stigmatized or isolated. Harmful customs like isolating women during menstruation or after childbirth have severe consequences for women’s health and the well-being of their families. Women’s health is a shared concern that impacts the entire community.
- Myth 9: Women Belong to Marriage, Not School
- Child marriage deprives girls of their rights, education, and future prospects. Investing in girls’ education is crucial for poverty reduction and overall development. Girls have the same right to education as boys and should not be forced into early marriages.
- Myth 10: A Woman’s Place is in the Home
- A woman’s place is wherever she chooses to be, based on her individual aspirations, talents, and goals. Women are not possessions but equal human beings deserving of freedom and equal opportunities. Each woman has the right to determine her own path in life, unrestricted by societal expectations or norms.
- By debunking these myths and challenging gender stereotypes, we can create a more inclusive, equitable, and empowered society for women in Africa and beyond. Together, let’s celebrate and support women in sports and all areas of life.