There are amazing activists in sport doing great things to make football accessible to girls and women and using it as a means of social empowerment. As events continue across the world today we feature nine women’s groups the Fare network works alongside that are using football as a tool for equality.
Discover Football (Germany)
Founded in 2009, Discover Football use football to facilitate contact between women who would otherwise never meet. Based in Berlin, the group is made up of 20 women who run the non-profit organisation almost entirely on a voluntary basis.
Discover Football are committed to equal rights, emancipation and women’s rights worldwide, with football central to their empowerment strategy. Their manifesto has a principle goal of “challenging gender stereotypes, make strong women visible and give them public recognition.”
As part of their programme of activities they arrange networking around women’s football teams and women’s rights activists and challenge stereotypes around football. By challenging gender roles, they offer alternative perspectives on women’s rights and football worldwide.
Kicken ohne Grenzen (Austria)
The empowerment of refugee young women from different backgrounds is a major focus of the Vienna-based group Kicken ohne Grenzen.
As the group puts it, sport strengthens girls’ self-esteem, minimizing the risk of gender-based violence. The group uses football as a tool to generate social change through gender equality initiatives, social integration and team building, personal development, training and youth leadership.
Tournaments, training and coaching opportunities are offered, and the organisation also has a women’s football team, Dynamo Donau.
They offer women and unaccompanied refugee girls the opportunity to gain experience in football in a protected and welcoming atmosphere.
Girl Power (Denmark)
Girl Power is a non-profit grassroots women sports entity that is passionate about giving immigrant and refugee women and girls access to sports.
Based in Denmark and run by the inspirational former Afghanistan captain Khalid Popal, Girl Power’s main target groups in Europe are ethnic minority women and girls, such as refugees, migrants and LGBT women.
Girl Power uses sports including football, Zumba dancing, yoga, cycling and swimming to promote team building, and also runs leadership workshops and networking events to support, empower and include women and girls in society.
They also work in South Asia doing important work for women’s rights in the region.
Les Dégommeuses (France)
Founded in 2012, Les Dégommeuses is a football team mainly made up of lesbians and trans people, whose goal is to fight against discrimination in sport and through sport.
Les Dégommeuses operates with two clear goals: to promote women’s football and to fight against sexism, LGBT-phobia and other forms of discrimination. “Today in France, women are largely left to one side when it comes to practicing sport considering naturally ‘masculine'”, they write on their website, with media content research that shows that women’s football makes up only 2% of all sports coverage in France.
The Paris-based Les Dégommeuses aim to change that through empowerment, advocacy, visibility and the holding of events to deconstruct gender norms and enhance diversity.
Chrzaszczyki Sports Club (Poland)
Celebrating their 10-year anniversary, Chrzaszczyki Sports Club are a womens football team founded in Warsaw in 1999. Their aim is to create an anti-discriminatory alternative to the male-dominated environment that is mainstream Polish football.
The group organises indoor tournaments for women’s teams, conducts regular group sessions and trainings open to women, and hosts many other events aimed at providing greater gender balance in Polish football and society.
In a country where there are few women’s football teams, particularly in the LGBT+ space, Chrzaszczyki Sports Club created a space for women in Polish football free from discrimination.
Through their Women’s Football Academy, set up in 2013, they offer weekly football training sessions, open to everyone. Their work is vital and an example to many across Eastern Europe.
Girl Power (Russia)
Girl Power are a popular women’s group based in Moscow that have made major headlines in their fight to empower women, including partnering with sportswear giants Adidas.
Known as the first women’s football community in Russia, Girl Power aim to change the way people think about football by turning the game into a lifestyle for women who want to play an active role in life. Their members are ambitious and active women and they advocate to get women into leadership positions in a variety of fields from journalism to law and TV.
Their new campaign, the #letgirlsplay campaign, aims to encourage girls to dream and try activities seen as being “not for girls”.
Shefootball Initiative (Nigeria)
The Shefootball Initiative is a series of grassroots activities in Nigeria, among them the SheFootball Conference, which this January attracted a record audience for a conference on women’s football in Nigeria.
Founded by former Nigeria international Ayisat Yusuf-Aromire, Shefootball organises development activities to create and advance opportunities for young women in Nigeria.
Hijabi Ballers (Canada)
Celebrating Muslim Women in Sports is the focus of Canadian group Hijabi Ballers. The group recognises and celebrates the accomplishments of hijab-wearing athletes, and looks to increase representation by encouraging the participation of Muslim girls and women.
Events like the annual Hijabi Ballers Sports Festival push forward the agenda for hijab-wearing women in sport, while on their blog they also write some inspiring profiles of athletes playing all kinds of different sports, from boxing to Muay Thai and basketball.
Hijabi Ballers’ goal is to create role models, challenging traditional viewpoints about young Muslim women while representing their faith.
Sseninde Foundation (Uganda)
Coaching life skills from community organisation to sewing classes in Uganda, The Sseninde Foundation is doing great work in east Africa.
Founded in 2006 by Jean Sseninde, a defender for the Uganda Women’s national team who has played for QPR and Crystal Palace women’s teams in England, among other clubs, the foundation provides life and technical skills, education and sports training.
The annual Sseninde Womens Football Tournament, which looks to try and increase the number of girls who play football in Uganda, is one of their main events.
On International Women’s Day this year the Foundation launched its #CreatingForWomen campaign to inspire and create education opportunities for girls through sport.