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How soccer empowers girls on and off the field in Togo

Girls’ rights are human rights. This simple, yet powerful, message is the driving force behind Plan’s global work to empower girls and promote gender equality. Unfortunately, for girls in developing countries, like Togo, local gender stereotypes and cultural expectations within communities can prevent girls from gaining an education, accessing healthcare, and even taking part in decisions that impact their own lives!

But since 2008, a project spearheaded by Plan has been turning things around in Togo, one village at a time. The Promoting Girls’ Leadership through Soccer project is giving girls, like Aziza, the chance to realize their full potential on and off the field.

Empowering girls

An adolescent girl smiling

Meet Aziza.

When she was 11 years old, Aziza joined Plan’s soccer project, where she not only learned how to improve her soccer skills, but she also took part in workshops that educated girls on their rights. Empowered with knew-found knowledge, Aziza wanted to do more to speak out and raise awareness at school and in the community.

Now in high school, she’s a reporter for the soccer project. As a reporter, Aziza provides live commentary over the radio at girls’ soccer games, writes articles about the local matches, and runs training sessions for other girls on issues like, child marriage, early pregnancy and child abuse.

“Thanks to the project, I learned a lot,” shared Aziza. “In the past, I could not speak in public...Now I am able to express myself.”

Changing mindsets

Aziza’s not the only one to feel the project’s positive impact – her mother and community can feel it too!

“There has been an improvement in the behaviour of all the girls who are members of the project. They participate in all the trainings and are more active,” revealed Djaharatou, Aziza’s mom. “Today, I am proud of my daughter. When I hear her voice on the radio, I’m so happy.”

Two adolescent girls speaking into a microphone at a soccer game

Broadcasted over the radio, Aziza reports on girls’ soccer tournaments.

Plan’s soccer tournaments showcase the power and potential of girls! The players, referees and reporters like Aziza, are all female. Here, girls get the chance to level the playing field by showing community members how girls are just as athletic and skilled as boys, and deserve to be treated equally. Now Aziza’s community is beginning to recognize and support girls’ rights, and include girls and women in community decisions.

“The project has made me a free girl who can express herself, who can speak in public without fear,” shared Aziza. “My community is proud of me.”

Invest in girls and change the world,

Thanks to our Canadian donors, girls like Aziza are empowered with skills, resources and opportunities to reach their full potential. Through your support girls all over the world can now look forward to a brighter future, while also helping create one for those around them. Invest in a girl and she’ll change the world – now that’s a powerful concept.