How many times have you heard a boy being teased for “running like a girl” or “throwing like a girl”? Probably more times than you’d like to remember. These insults send a very clear message about the athletic competence of all girls, implying that they are weak, laughable and utterly incapable playing sports. In 2016, it’s time for this perception to change once and for all, and for the playing field to be leveled for girls, boys, men and women everywhere. According to the UN, girls are less likely to participate in sports than boys in all countries, and it’s not because girls don’t want to participate, it’s because they’re often not given a fair opportunity or a comfortable space to do so. Along with poverty, domestic demands, and safety concerns, socially constructed gender stereotypes prevent many girls from becoming physically active and reaching their athletic potential. And yet, we know that when girls play sports, they gain strength, self-esteem, better health and overall empowerment. Sports break down restrictive notions of how girls should look and behave, and ultimately, show that both boys and girls are equal in every way! To illustrate the power, strength and ability of female athletes, we’ve rounded up 10 photos of young girls around the world who are breaking down gender stereotypes through sports in their communities.
1. Dominican Republic
It can be challenging to be a female baseball player in a country where many major league players are born, but this girl is confident, empowered and energetic at the plate.
“I dream of becoming a karate coach and training girls in self-defence skills to help empower them as self-dependent young women.” Says Mishti, 18
These girls play netball for a healthy confidence boost as part of Plan International’s Menstrual Health Management program.
A young girl celebrates as she crosses the finish line at a marathon in support of Because I am a Girl in Kathmandu
"I love playing sports," says Emiliah, who dreams that one day all children in her community will have affordable transport to the local track and field training ground.
Like many children in her community, Patience, 13, enjoys playing soccer every day after school.
These girls are challenging traditional stereotypes in Hatibandha by starting up an all-girls cricket team.
Sokhat, 13, is making friends and gaining strength through jump rope during her lunch break at school.
After fleeing conflict in northern Mali, this girl is able to relax and have fun playing basketball at a Plan International supported school.
Power, agility and grace: a ballerina caught mid-air after kicking a soccer ball
Help girls even the score
Sports are a powerful tool for challenging gender stereotypes and empowering girls to take on decision-making and leadership roles. When girls play sports, they:
- Enhance their health and well-being
- Increase their self-esteem and confidence
- Become better integrated into their communities
- Help inspire change and challenge the status quo
If you believe, like we do, that all girls deserve the right to play, participate and be empowered to achieve their full potential, then support the Because I am a Girl project. Your donations will help girls in some of the poorest regions of the world overcome the barriers to their success and help create a better world for everyone!
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