FIFA (www.FIFA.com), the French Development Agency (AFD) and the NGO Plan International France are joining forces to launch the Champions program in Togo, Guinea and Benin. The goal? Empower girls and promote gender equality through football.
Its aim is to promote leadership among girls and promote gender equality through football in a safe environment, especially at school.
The various projects of the Championnes program are under development in Benin, Togo and Guinea. Expected results include capacity building and confidence building in 5,390 girls by empowering them to work together towards a common goal. Girls and women, aged 12 to 24, will have the opportunity to play football in renovated and well-equipped facilities, allowing both sexes to share space in a harmonious way. Leaders of 180 community organizations will also receive support under the program.
On March 23, Plan International France, with Plan International Benin, Guinea and Togo, will bring together all the local actors to officially launch the program. Guinean, Togolese and Beninese football associations will be invited to participate, allowing them to share their experiences and skills and create synergies with existing activities.
“Every day football around the world shows us that it brings people together, motivates people of all ages and fosters team spirit. FIFA wants to use the power of football to drive social change and tackle some of the biggest challenges we currently face globally to make a tangible contribution to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, ”said Véron Mosengo-Omba , of the chief member associations of FIFA Officer. “The partnership between FIFA, AFD and Plan International will enable the three organizations to combine their know-how and their respective strengths to promote the role of women in society and reduce inequalities,” he added.
The Champions program is part of FIFA’s promotion strategy for women’s football, implemented in October 2018. The potential for empowerment and personal development through football has not gone unnoticed by AFD . FIFA and AFD share the conviction that sport can and must be a vector of sustainable development, social cohesion and equality in Africa.
Matthieu Discour, AFD regional director in the Gulf of Guinea said: “Football is an inspiring universal language that unites and unifies. He is able to transcend borders, cultures, beliefs and physical differences. The pitch becomes a space where everyone can be free, excel, share and connect. In addition to the remarkable and unprecedented nature of this partnership, the Championnes program is fully in line with the ADF’s strategic axis in terms of gender equality and social cohesion.
This ambitious project is also fully in line with Plan International France’s mission to promote the rights of the child, especially girls, and gender equality through education. Plan International France director Yvan Savy notes that “by playing football, the girls in the Champion program will change the way their skills, abilities and roles are perceived. They will become role models, champions of change, able to make their own decisions and help reduce harmful practices that still prevent their communities from developing. “
In West Africa, 30% of girls between 15 and 19 are married, divorced or widowed. More specifically, in Benin, child marriage affects 30% of girls, in Guinea 54% and in Togo 32%. The consequences are dramatic: 29% of girls in Guinea do not go to school and more than 3,000 pregnancies were recorded in schools in Togo in 2017.
In addition, discriminatory practices and attitudes towards women and girls continue to exist. In many communities, social norms require girls to become mothers, which is seen as incompatible with education. Child marriage, sexual violence, female genital mutilation and early childbearing, in addition to unequal access to land and financial services, are significant obstacles to the economic and social empowerment of women.
In this context, the Champions program can clearly help change attitudes.