“Sport is a precious tool for promoting gender equality on and off the field of play”
“While sport is recognized as a beneficial practice for society as a whole, there are still very few girls and women taking part in sporting activities at the international level. In Africa, only 16% of women are sufficiently physically active, compared with 25% of men. In Morocco, girls’ access to physical education and sport at elementary school is limited, unlike their male counterparts.
Yet sport, with its values of tolerance and respect, is a precious tool for promoting gender equality on and off the field of play. The images of euphoria in Morocco after the semi-final victory at the 2022 World Cup speak for themselves. The whole country united behind one and the same team, regardless of gender, age or place of origin. This is what makes sport so powerful: its unifying power and its role in building a more just, inclusive and peaceful world.
Sport offers many opportunities to tackle the most pressing social issues. It was this deep-seated conviction that prompted me to set up Tibu Maroc, now Tibu Africa, a pan-African NGO. Since 2011, Tibu has been promoting the positive values of sport and working to foster initiatives for the socio-economic integration and empowerment of girls and young women, in line with SDG 5. In rural areas, sports workshops are an opportunity to raise girls’ awareness of sexual and reproductive health and prevent psycho-social risks. To ensure that these programs have an effective and lasting impact, Tibu Africa relies on a coalition of players, including the Moroccan Ministry of Education and Sports and Peace and Sport.
The women’s African Cup of Nations (CAN) provided a particularly propitious context for highlighting the role of sport in empowering girls and women. For the Girls CAN program, Tibu Africa drew on the expertise of Peace and Sport to implement peace through sport activities based on the Peace and Sport Methodology. This methodology inculcates in participants the values of sport, such as living together, self-confidence and respect for others. It equips educators and NEET beneficiaries with the technical and soft skills they need to succeed both personally and professionally. As part of the program, AS Monaco Women’s Football Club player Salma Zeitouni led sport sessions in Casablanca, encouraging beneficiaries to practice sport and, through her model, inspiring them to surpass themselves and give their best.
In all, the program reached 36 young women in NEET situations from 12 Casablanca neighborhoods, who were trained to become educators, and over 200 girls benefited from the activities implemented by these educators. 60 local actors and associations took part in the project, and over 240 families benefited indirectly from the training of the young beneficiaries. Ultimately, we hope to see the majority of the girls in the program return to school and face their future with hope and determination.
We hope that the success of the Girls CAN program will bring us increasing institutional recognition, particularly from FIFA and the African Cup of Nations. We would also like it to serve as an example in other African countries where girls’ education is still in the minority. This desire to extend our method to the rest of the African continent has resulted in the launch of the ‘Changemakers 63’ program. Over a three-year period, we will support a young sports leader in the service of development and peace in each of the countries of Africa, helping them to develop their own project.”