In 2021 from March to June there were several events organized on the topic of Girls in Sports by Nordic partner organizations. The events were about equality fields from Sustainable development goals. Topics stand for ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all and other is about achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls. Participating young people were those who are or will be working in the field of inclusion for girls.
Seminar organized by Fryshuset in Sweden “Value. Why it is important for youths” was for those who are “outside” of the society. The subject for this was the importance of morals and equality. The focus of the seminar was on the importance of how teaching about equality and morals at an early age could influence the values, mindset and way of living and thinking. The youths delved into the foundations of values and what to do if it feels like someone does not have them. This led to discussions about equality and what people can do more in their daily lives to make things happen. The second event of Fryshuset was an online seminar “How to involve more girls into skateboarding?” where they were showing the keys to this action. It was shown through female role models, building relations and help from the media. The youth workers learned a lot and got a good boost from the lecture, encouraging them to implement some of the methods in their work.
Denmark’s GAME organization made a couple of events on the same topic. One of the memorable moments of the event was a gender walk where everybody was given different profiles that represented different kinds of children from various backgrounds. The purpose was to get the participants to reflect on the fact that kids have different prerequisites for participating – especially girls. After that, there was a workshop on how to include more girls in physically active communities using participatory design. Also there was another event which held focus on street sports in vulnerable neighborhoods. Of course, the main stream of participants were girls, who took part in sport tournaments and workshops on the barriers, possibilities and importance of girls being active in a positive sports community together with local stakeholders.
The benefits of athletic participation for boys and girls are the same. However part of the society, often even without acknowledging it, feels differently and all these events were held to contribute to changing that approach. Sport is one of the most powerful platforms for promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls.
Great progress has been made in terms of balancing the total number of athletes worldwide, however, many other challenges and gaps remain. The organisations are working to solve these inequalities through sportship development so that girls and women around the world would have greater access and opportunities to participate in sport. Here it is important to highlight the benefits for girls and women who play sports: they experience higher levels of confidence and self-esteem and lower levels of depression. Moreover, sports also helps develop social skills: being on a sports team gives girls a chance to build a new social network and develop friendships outside of school. By training together and winning and losing together, girls learn teamwork and a sense of belonging. Playing competitive sports has a transformative influence on one’s life. Confidence surges with winning, of course, but losing may be even more impactful for building self-assuredness. Working through struggles, continuing when it seems impossible and putting in the hard work to reach a goal are the experiences that build emotional fortitude. Girls who participate in sports are better at organizing and time management, skills that are helpful for success later in life. Some research shows that a candidate’s background in sports would have a positive influence in hiring decisions. Girls who play sports get the opportunity to be part of a team, work together, push themselves and each other, dream boldly and achieve shared success. They are healthier, happier and have more success into adulthood. One of the best ways to support girls is to encourage and champion their participation in youth athletics. Plus, sports are just plain fun and add priceless benefits to all this. The world takes all of us, that is why we have to let each other take all of it too.
This publication has been produced with financial support from the Nordic Council of Ministers. The content of this publication is the sole responsibility of the coordinators of this project and does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Nordic Council of Ministers.