There are 880 million girls and young women between the ages of 10-24 growing up in developing countries today (UNFPA, 2017). We at Women Win believe that every one of these girls and young women has the potential to lead – herself, her peers and her community.
Adolescence is a time of transition from childhood into adulthood, a time of growth and opportunity, when one can take active steps towards deciding one’s future. However, gender discrimination, which girls already face in childhood, often becomes more pronounced as they near adulthood. The challenges girls have to contend with in their daily lives are obstacles to their future, inevitably posing a threat to their empowerment.
- Every year, 15 million girls get married before they are 18 years old. (The World Bank, 2017)
- The leading cause of death for 15-19 year-old girls globally is complications from pregnancy and childbirth. (WHO, 2017)
- Girls and young women account for 74 percent of new HIV infections among adolescents in Sub-Saharan Africa and nearly 1,000 adolescent girls and young women are infected with HIV every day. (USAID, 2017)
The Sustainable Development Goals highlighted the barriers girls face in accessing education, their experiences of gender-based violence and harmful cultural practices, and their reality of carrying the burden of unpaid labour and care work. International development actors are beginning to recognise the importance of focussing efforts on empowering adolescent girls and young women.
However, large gaps still remain in the development sector. Sports programmes, although increasingly recognised as an effective tool for empowering youth in developing countries, are often designed for, and dominated by, boys and men. At the same time, women’s rights organisations are making powerful strides in the development arena. But all too often their efforts are not designed specifically to support the unique challenges faced by girls and younger women.
This is why Women Win’s mission is to advance the playing field that empowers adolescent girls and young women through sport and play.
Research shows that giving girls and women more opportunities to make informed decisions gives rise to change over time that reverberates far beyond the individual. Empowered girls and women are able to actively direct their own future, while at the same time impacting the lives of others in the social and cultural context they live in: by building a stronger community, a more stable nation and eventually - collectively - a more equal world.