Earlier this week, I had a chance to sit down with some of the YWCA Evanston/Northshore members, staff, and Flying Fish swimmers and their parents, for a discussion about the Through Her Eyes Project and empowering women and girls through sports. Karen Singer, the YWCA Evanston/Northshore president and CEO, facilitated a wonderful discussion that resulted in some really thoughtful responses from the young swimmers and their parents about what sports has meant to them. We talked about a wide range of topics including how not having access to or support for sports limits the lives of girls and women in many countries around the world. Next time, I’ll be recording some of these sessions so I can share some of the thoughts and responses. A big thank you to the YWCA for hosting the mini pop-up exhibit and reception.
Photo credit: Emily Cummins, YWCA Evanston/North Shore
Photo source: Jamie Squire/Getty Images Europe
Are there changes afoot for women and girls in Saudi Arabia in the field of sports and social and political participation?
On Saturday, it was widely reported that Saudi Arabian girls that attend private schools will now be allowed to play sports. SPA, the official press agency of Saudi Arabia, reported that private schools will host sports activities for the girls in accordance with Sharia law.
According to an article from the Associated Press: “Women’s sport remains nearly an underground activity in the kingdom. Only the largest female university – Princess Nora Bint Abdul Rahman Unviersity – has a swimming pool, tennis court and exercise area for its students. No other university in Saudi Arabia has sport facilities for its female students and staff.”
The story goes on to report that within the kingdom, females are not allowed to register for sports clubs or league competitions, but that in the past the government has turned a blind eye towards women and girls who have played competitively against one another.
It looks as though changes are underfoot, but the question remains how this will affect the greater population of girls and women in the public sphere, and how long it will take before girls who attend public schools also have the opportunity to partake in sport activities.
To read the full story click here.
Image source: Saudi female soccer team at practice in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. 2012. AP Photo/Hassan Ammar
In a fantastic collaboration with the YWCA Evanston/Northshore swimming program, swimmers were asked to contribute their own thoughts about what sports means to them while the Through Her Eyes Project is on display. Posted on a wall opposite the mini pop up exhibit, here are some of their thoughts.
Mini pop up exhibit at the YWCA Evanston/Northshore. On view through May 10th, 2013.
Spring is finally in the air in the Northern Hemisphere! And we’re excited to say that the Through Her Eyes Project has a mini exhibit up at the YWCA Evanston/Northshore. It’s not on the beach, like our exhibit at the South American Beach Games pictured above, but it is at a great location. And anyways, it’s only Spring! So if you’ve missed the Through Her Eyes Project in the past or just want to see it again. Stop by the YWCA Evanston/Northshore during the next week to check out the exhibit.
We’ll have photos of the exhibit up soon!
WHERE: YWCA Evanston/North Shore 1215 Church Street, Evanston, IL 60201
Image source: Katty Garcia
“We run in the open on our streets — men and women, young and old, new immigrants and foreigners, in shorts not armor, with abandon and never fear, eyes always on the prize, never on all those “suspicious” bundles on the curb. In today’s world, sometimes we pay for that quintessentially American naïveté, but the benefits — living in an open society — always outweigh the costs.”
- Thomas L. Friedman, Bring on the Next Marathon
- SIR ROGER GILBERT BANNISTER
“What we do for and in partnership with girls, we do for men, women, and boys too.” - From a Girls Count Report, “Girls Grow: A Vital Force in Rural Economies,” a publication of The Chicago Council on Global Affairs and Catherine Bertini.
Recently the momentum behind using sport as a tool for development has begun to gather much more speed and support. And the expanse of social spheres where sport is being used as a tool to advance development is constantly growing. Think health, education, gender equity, disability, and conflict resolution, just to name a few.
I’ve seen first hand the importance of using sports as a development tool to empower women and girls. And if you are reading this, you know that telling the stories of how sports empowers girls and women is exactly what the Through Her Eyes Project is all about.
Marisa Brown, pictured above, has also seen the power of sport in empowering girls and women. She has worked around the world in the field of coaching and sports and development. And over the last year she has served as a Sports & Coaching Fellow with the Dekeyser & Friends Academy. During this time she had the unique opportunity to focus on an initiative to create “a female focused sport for development curriculum.” In order to continue to collect research and share her insight on the topic she has created a website. Follow this link to check out her work and blog titled: The Connections and Connectors Between Sport & Female Empowerment
And for even more information about the work Marisa has done around the world, including her work in Kenya with Coaches Across Continents (pictured above) follow this link.
Image source: Coaches Across Continents
Don’t forget that WBEZ is throwing their 6th Annual Global Activism Expo this Saturday, April 6th. There will be a ton of organizations displaying the work that they are doing to promote equality and justice around the globe.
Attend the expo and you can meet them, us, and some of the folks from WBEZ and Vocalo! Just look at what Jerome McDonnell has to say about the event: “The Expo is an opportunity for people to see their community and their world as a caring, thoughtful, and generous place. Join us as we make a difference with our love, respect, and compassion.”
Date and Time: April 6, 2013/12pm - 6pm
Location: UIC Forum, 25 W Roosevelt Rd. Chicago, IL 60607
“You know, my daughter loves going to school, and she wants to study more and more. But the boy she is marrying, he sent his mother yesterday to tell my wife, ‘Look, this is dishonoring us to have my son’s future wife go to school,’ ” he said.” (NYT, April 1, 2013.)
This quote comes from an article by Alissa Rubin that ran yesterday in the New York Times, “Painful payment for Afghan Debt: A Daughter, 6.” The article tells the story of an Afghan man, Taj Mohammad (quoted above), who fled the Helmand Province four years ago with his family and is now living in a refugee camp in Kabul. Unable to pay off his $2,500 debt to another man, Mr. Mohammad had agreed to give his 6-year-old daughter, Naghma, in marriage to the family as repayment. (The NYT ran an editor’s note today which says that the man has now said the debt has been paid and he will not have to give up his daughter.)
Beyond this terrifying story, Rubin digs further into the current state of the lives of women and girls in the article. And, the future for Afghan women and girls does not look much brighter than the current state of affairs as the U.S. and European aid groups continue to pull out, taking with them many of the education and social programs not previously offered to females.
“Women and girls have been among the chief victims — not least because the Afghan government makes little attempt in the camps to enforce laws protecting women and children, said advocates for the camp residents. Aid groups have been able to provide a few programs for women and children in the ever-growing camps, including schooling that for many girls here is a first. But those programs are being cut as international aid has dwindled here ahead of the Western military withdrawal. And the Afghan government has not offered much support, in part because most officials hope the refugees will leave Kabul and return home.” (NYT, April 1, 2013.)
Image source: Bryan Denton for the NYT
“… for the first time I’m feeling I have legs, actually. And I can breathe… in every sense I can say I can breathe.”
- Maria Toorpakai
Maria Toorpakai, who grew up in Waziristan, is Pakistan’s top female squash player. To play in Pakistan this young girl pretended to be a boy and for a time only practiced in the cramped confines of her room. The success she found on the court drew the eyes of the Taliban who threatened her family, warning them that they would be killed if Maria continued to play. With her family’s blessing, she decided to leave Pakistan to pursue playing the sport she loves. She is currently living in Canada and training with the former world champion Jonathon Power. While she is focused on pursing her own dream, she has plans to return to her native country one day to help other women and girls pursue their dreams. Listen to her conversation with NPR’s Scott Simon here. And can you read more about Maria and her family in this MSN article.
Image source: www.hilltimes.com