UK and Premier League use football to tackle violence against women and girls in Africa
An innovative new partnership between the Department for International Development, the Premier League and the British Council will help tackle issues of violence against girls and women through football, International Development Secretary Justine Greening has announced.
Launched in Western Kenya today, the new programme will provide training for 47 Kenyan female and male football instructors and referees by expert Premier League coaches from Aston Villa FC and West Bromwich Albion FC. The trainee coaches will receive the skills and support they need to run grassroots football activities in their communities, with a particular focus on working with young people to question the behaviours and attitudes that lead to high levels of violence against girls and women.
The initial £1.5 million pilot phase will run in Mount Elgon, where 45% of women report having experienced violence since the age of 15 and more than a quarter within the last year; these are some of the highest rates in the country.
Participation in sport is a powerful tool for addressing gender inequality, and by engaging boys and men and girls and women together through football, we can target harmful social attitudes and empower people to speak out within their communities.
Justine Greening said:
“Football’s international appeal gives it the unique ability to inspire change. By working with boys and girls through football and developing their leadership skills we can empower them to have a stronger voice within their communities and stamp out abuse, discrimination and violence.
“No country can escape poverty or plan a more prosperous future when girls and women are denied the chance to reach their full potential. Equal access to education, health and decision making is key to boost growth, creating jobs and ending dependency on aid for good.”
Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore said:
“The Premier League and our clubs work hard to improve the lives of young people in their communities across the UK. We hold a strong commitment to engage women and girls through the variety of programmes they run, with over 150,000 girls getting involved in the past year alone.
“The right thing to do, given our international reach, is to embed these objectives into our global Premier Skills programme, and over the past few years we have seen growing numbers of women being trained as grassroots coaches and referees across the 25 countries in which it operates. This is an exciting next step: working with DfID, the British Council and our partners in Kenya to use the Premier Skills model, and football more generally, to address the issue of violence against women and girls.”
British Council Chief Executive Ciarán Devane said:
“I am delighted that we can harness the global appeal of football to transport community development programmes from the West Midlands to Western Kenya. Premier Skills has had great success around the world in helping young people gain the skills to reach their full potential, and through working to reduce violence and gender discrimination I’m sure this project will do the same for the women and girls of Mount Elgon.”
Eliminating violence against girls and women is vital to achieving development outcomes for individual women, their families, communities and entire nations. Women who have experienced violence are more exposed to poor health and are often unable to contribute towards economic growth; no country can reach its full potential if half the population are denied the chance to reach theirs.