Break the Bias: Changing the Game for Girls & Women
*This post was originally published on March 8, 2022. It was slightly updated for International Day of the Girl on 10/11/2022.
The world has been through a lot in the last several years. Women and girls in particular have felt the impacts of a never-ending global health pandemic, conflict and displacement, and authoritarian government takeovers, to name a few.
The COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionately affecting women and girls around the world, which threatens the gains made in the past decades in advancing women’s economic empowerment, health, rights, and safety. Moreover, significant gains in women’s sport in recent years are now under considerable threat as COVID-19 erases the momentum and the unprecedented attention women’s sport has gained around the world. From the elite to the grassroots, gaps between women and men, girls and boys are set to widen. Women and girls will, once again, lose access to the benefits of sport.
The takeover by the Taliban in Afghanistan earlier this year instantly sent the future of girls and women in that country into chaos. Overnight, educational opportunities disappeared — as did the right to play sports, work, and hold office. Female athletes across the country realized that their livelihood and passion would be impossible to pursue and their association with sport could make them and their family targets.
In addition, female athletes globally have faced abuse and harassment from the very people who are charged with coaching and supporting them to succeed. Transgender female athletes are being shut out opportunities to participate in sport while facing atrocious discrimination and hatred along the way.
These global forces and events have tested the resilience of women and girls like never before. At Women Win, we believe that in the face of such adversity, the best solution — the antidote — is to invest in young women on the ground who are working to make their communities places of radical equity through sport, in spite of the fight they face.
In partnership with women’s rights funds, sport for development organizations and feminist sport activists, Women Win launched the ONSIDE Fund — a participatory grantmaking mechanism that rapidly mobilises unrestricted resources for girls and young women-led organisations and groups through a pooled fund.
ONSIDE actively looks to support all cis, trans, non-binary and all other underrepresented groups and communities, including Black, indigenous, mestizas, people of colour, LGBTQIA+, refugees, and migrant girls and women with or without disabilities. Since 2020, the fund has supported 60 groups and individuals with over $500,000, funding feminist hyper-local solutions that challenge inequalities in sports systems and structures at all levels, from local to international.
Through ONSIDE, Women Win has had the opportunity to support and learn from incredible leaders and activists around the world fighting to create spaces free from bias, stereotypes, and discrimination, where diversity and difference is celebrated and where women and girls can exercise their rights.
For all the reasons outlined above, it’s critical that girls and women continue breaking the bias, both on the playing field and off of it. With that in mind, here are three other organizations that are working to break the bias for girls and women across the world.
Trans Youth Initiative-Uganda is a human rights advocacy organisation that advocates for the rights, issues, and concerns of rural transgender youth women, transgender youth women sex workers, and gender diverse youth in western Uganda. They use netball as a way to provide safe spaces for development and visibility of their target population.
SHAKHI ‘Friends of Women‘ is a grassroots organization based in rural Nepal, led and managed by a group of young women committed to empowering other women, girls, and children of marginalized and vulnerable communities through sports like karate, self-defense, and football.
Fundacion GOLEES is based in Costa Rica and works with girls and women ages 10-60. Through football, they create spaces for social transformation where girls and women can develop fully, without patriarchal restrictions or inequities. They recently launched the campaign “Change starts on the pitch,” which collected the voices of over 100 Costa Rican football players to celebrate their history, successes, and fight for gender equity.
To learn more about these organizations and the other grantees, and to support the incredible work they are doing, check out www.onsidefund.org.
Learn more about the work Women Win is doing to level the playing field for girls and women in sports.
About the Author
Nicole Matuska is the GRLS Director at Women Win. She has been working with Women Win in various capacities since 2011 on a range of projects and programs both in the U.S. and globally. With a background in journalism and tool development, Nicole took strategic leadership of the GRLS initiative in 2022. Through GRLS, Women Win advances the playing field that empowers adolescent girls and young women to exercise their rights through sport and play. Together with our implementing partners, we have impacted the lives of over 4 million adolescent girls and young women in over 100 countries.
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