Female Empowerment Becomes The Focus Of This Sporting Org Thanks To Emma Watson

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From June 6-July 5 the Women’s Soccer World Cup will be held in Canada and fans from all over the world will be eagerly watching to see Japan defend their title. While women’s soccer certainly doesn’t get the same amount of attention as men’s soccer, and pretty much every other coverage of men’s sport, there is a greater awareness to the gender inequality that exists in the sporting world.

In the lead up to the World Cup, there will no doubt be various press articles surrounding the event and the need for greater emphasis on female empowerment in the sport, especially as FIFA are doing a huge push for women in leadership in soccer globally, but there is a non-profit organization using the platform of Women’s Soccer to empower women and girls in a different way. Why is this something we want to talk about?

Because soccer is the most loved sport on earth, played by over 265 million people worldwide. In 2006, only 10% of those 265 million people were female, the dominating 90% were male. In 2014, female participation was up to 14%. It’s high time those statistics changed, and it’s also the perfect platform to advocate the advancement of women. Which is what Coaches Across Continents is doing right now.

Coaches Across Continents was founded in 2008 by former soccer coach Nick Gates which uses experiences soccer coaches to go into communities around the world where gender inequality is a big issue. During Nick’s soccer career which included playing for England Youth International and developing an organization called Girl Play Soccer Camp where he brought in professional coaches from the Women’s World Cup USA in 1999 and 2003.

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It was that model that sparked the idea for Coaches Across America. Today the coaches go into areas that have a much bigger impact than the World Cup. These coaches literally transforms lives, empower them for a hopeful future and raise up leaders that will change their communities for the better.

Nick kicked off CAC with a “hat-trick” pilot initiative in Tanzania which focused on female empowerment, including gender equity; conflict resolution, including social inclusion; health and wellness, including HIV behavior change; and other life skills. This initiative won an award for its social impact, and the past 8 years have seen the organization continue to capitalize on their winning play.

This year they have launched a campaign called “ASK For Choice Female Empowerment” which is a social development curriculum in 26 countries that is impacting over 300,000 youth. They are specifically targeting countries where women are victims of gender-based violence, inequality in various aspects of their lives and discriminatory cultural practices.

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The ASK campaign was officially launched on March 9th to coincide with International Women’s Day and engages girls using attitudes, skills and knowledge, the letters making up the acronym ASK. But to be able to do that, girls and women need to have a choice in the first place, and in many countries they don’t.

“Having the freedom to make our own choices in this world is a privilege that not everyone is granted. All across the globe, women are discriminated against. For years brave women have fought for equal rights and for years we will continue to fight for a world where all human beings are treated the same. Through our ASK for Choice curriculum, we have created games to give women the tools to become active participants in their own lives, and men the tools to include women in their society as equals; recognizing that society as a whole functions better when men and women have the same opportunities,” says a press release about the initiative.

Within the program they are sparking discussions using facts such as “women make up 70% of the world’s poor” and “women reinvest 90% of their income into their families while men invest only 30 to 40%” in order to provoke both girls and boys to come up with ways as to how this impacts their communities and how they would want to change it.

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Yes, they are all about engaging boys just as much as the girls, and this was sparked by UN Women’s He For She campaign fronted and launched by actress Emma Watson.

Emma Watson’s goal with the HeForShe initiative is for men to advocate, break the silence and take action for the achievement of gender equality. Since the inception of CAC in 2008, it has been our mission to encourage men across the globe to empower women to rise up for the betterment of society as a whole, and we are inspired to see someone with a major influence in today’s society bring it to the forefront of world issues,” says CAC.

He For She has been such an incredibly powerful tool for creating discussions, initiatives and engaging a section of the society that sometimes tends to be left out of the conversation around gender equality. We sometimes think of it as something women need to fight and advocate for, but in fact it is a humanity issue and both men and women thrive when they work together.

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We love what Nick Gates and Coaches Across Continents are doing and hope their clever skills using soccer to empower girls around the world will inspire many other organizations to join them in the gender equality mission.

“To the fathers, sons, and brothers out there, show your support today and everyday, by standing strong for the amazing women of this world; for you are half the sky. To the mothers, daughters and sisters out there, everybody deserves to have a voice and a choice in this world; lets use ours to stand up and ASK for it; for we are the other half of the sky,” said the org.

If you are interested in learning more about what they are doing, check out their website, and this short documentary on Coaches Across Continents launched in 2014:

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