Today is International Women’s Day!
Author: Grassroot Soccer
March 8, is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
According to the World Health Organization, "taking action to improve gender equity in health and to address women’s rights to health is one of the most direct and potent ways to reduce health inequities and ensure effective use of health resources." Grassroot Soccer is deeply committed to these goals, recognizing that girls and young women are often those most affected by the HIV epidemic, along with other poor outcomes related to sexual and reproductive health and rights, and gender-based violence. Combined with the transformative power of sport and influence of role models, Grassroot Soccer’s approach takes gender, power dynamics, and the complex influences shaping the life of a girl into account.
My name is Coach Kunda Mwitwa, and I am a Grassroot Soccer Zambia Coach. This is my story.
Growing up as a girl in Zambia has brought its fair share of experiences. When I was much younger I recall having both boys and girls as my friends and playing with them whenever I wanted. I also had a boy cousin who lived with us. It was from my cousin’s interactions that I noticed we were treated differently. “Don’t run around the house!” My mother would scream “Uleumfwa! Amano kwati kaume!” (“You should behave well and not like a boy!”) This statement in itself didn’t have much meaning until I completed secondary school.
The differences became more profound in my late teens, when I noticed that boys at my school would participate in more activities as compared to the girls. I remember the school grounds were always occupied by the boys who were very free to play different types of sports; they would play football at this time and play another sport at another time. But this could never be said about us, we were often left to play after the boys had finished their games or would be coaxed to cheer them as they played.
Females need a seat at the table. We desire an invitation to be seated there and, in some cases when this isn’t available, you know what? We need to learn to create our own table. Because I believe girls with dreams can become women with vision. May we proudly support and empower each other to carry out our vision, because it is not enough to simply just talk about equality. It isn’t enough to simply believe in it. One must work at it. Let us work at it together.
This is where Grassroot Soccer comes in.