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HOW TO IMPROVE THE PARTICIPATION OF YOUNG WOMEN AND GIRLS IN SPORT

AEI conducted a study to understand the barriers to equal participation of young people, particularly women and girls, in sport and sport-related professions, in five countries in West and Central Africa. We held discussions with young athletes, sports managers and/or experts from national federations, Non-Governmental Organizations, ministries of youth and sport, and foundations. Based on the results of our consultations, here are 4 tips on how to improve the equitable participation of women and girls in particular, in the practice and profession of sport in French-speaking West and Central Africa:


Understanding socio-cultural stereotypes

Tips on how to improve the participation of young women and girls in sport

Socio-cultural stereotypes are the root cause of the low participation of young women and girls - confirmed during the study - in practice and governance of sport, and in sport as a profession. Sports are often perceived in society as being masculine, or that they make women or girls masculine. It is therefore crucial to start by identifying and understanding these stereotypes and their impact, in order to find solutions to break down these social and cultural barriers.


Involving communities and families

To address these stereotypes, involvement and engagement of communities and families must be part of any strategy to promote girls and women’s participation in sport. Communities - including parents, religious leaders and other leaders - can play an important role in reducing resistance to women's sport. They are a key element in inducing a change of mentality that would lead to encouraging young women and girls in the practice and professions of sport.


Working with schools

Schools have been recognized as the first place where young people come into contact with sport through physical and sporting activities. They are therefore the ideal place to promote the practice of sport by girls, while at the same time raising awareness of the socio-cultural stereotypes that are at the root of some girls' lack of involvement. The participation of renowned female athletes and sports professionals in these awareness-raising events, for example, is a relevant strategy to help break down certain social and cultural barriers.


Leveraging the work of NGOs

It is important to highlight the work of certain local NGOs to improve the participation of young people in the practice and professions of sport. Examples include mentoring between former and young athletes in Senegal, free basketball camps organized for young people in Gabon, and awareness-raising about basketball in schools in Côte d'Ivoire. Local NGOs are therefore ideal partners for projects/programs and activities aimed at breaking down certain social and cultural barriers, and enhancing the participation of young women and girls in sport.


Author

Mouhamed Talla NDONGO is currently a teacher-researcher at the Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar (UCAD). His research focuses on issues at the intersection of sport, gender, the body, tradition and religion. On the one hand, it questions the determinants of gendered inequalities in practice, in technical and administrative supervision, and the inequalities in success between boys and girls in physical education and sport. On the other hand, it analyzes the social meanings of bodily practices observed among girls and women. Mouhamed is part of AEI's ecosystem of experts.

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