Gender initiatives at centre of the Football People weeks

Building on the momentum of this summer's Women's World Cup in Canada, which put the sport and the issues surrounding it in the spotlight, campaigns, conferences and other initiatives targeting girls and women are at the centre of the 2015 Football People action weeks.

The participation of women in football, sexism in the game and female empowerment through playing it, have been areas of growing interest for Football People groups in the recent years.

In 2015 a number of major events in Bosnia, Spain, Italy, Austria, Portugal, Greece, Ukraine, Russia, Germany and Kenya will be dedicated to highlight opportunities and encourage a debate on gender issues.

First ever women in football event in Bosnia
In Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia and Herzegovinian (BiH), a conference organised by Agencija za komunikacije ebbe comms will bring together politicians, NGO’s and leadings figure from womens football in the region for the first time on this issue on the 13 October.

Speakers including Fare Executive Director Piara Powar, BiH Minister of Culture and Sports Samer Rešidat, the head of the Council of Europe in BiH Mary Ann Hennessey and prominent players and coaches including Samira Hurem, Elma Basara, Kristina Šešlija, Doris Bacic and Jasna Djokovic, will address the role of women in sport, with a focus on playing, institutional representation and resourcing for clubs.

This and other initiatives follow a 2014 report, commissioned by Fare, that looked into the levels of representation of women in football to find that less than 4% of European football leaders are women and only 12% of women are employed as senior administrators.

In Spain a day-long event will seek to put womens football back on the agenda after the debut of the national team at the Womens World Cup in Canada moved the country and inspired players and enthusiasts to ‘Dream Big‘, the motto of the team during the event.

Sports people, journalists, womens rights campaigners and representatives from within football authorities and national institutions will gather in Madrid on 17 October for a ‘Women and Football Working Day’, organised by web portal Detacónlab, to highlight the lack of visibility of women’s football and discuss ways to further the involvement of women.

Build up to Champions League final
In Italy, Fare founder UISP and the Italian Players Union will kick-off a season-long campaign that will come to an end during at the UEFA Womens Champions League final in May 2016, on women’s football. Two football tournaments will be organised during the Football People weeks to launch the campaign.

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The GOL initiative (G.O.L. – Generi Oltre I Limiti) is looking to boost opportunities in Italy football for women and promote the practice of playing sport. The campaign will be accompanied by a promotional video, activities at schools and initiatives at the UEFA Women Euro Qualifiers.

In a similar move FairPlay-VIDC Fare founder member in Austria, are seeking to improve the visibility of football among women and promote sport. VIDC will launch a campaign during the Football People weeks supported by Austrian womens clubs and the FA which will include interviews with female players, administrators and others working in the industry, and will be promoted across the media.

Empowering minorities
While major events will spark national debates on the glass ceiling in women's football, at playing and educational level human rights organisations, amateur clubs and others, will focus on empowering women and addressing day-to-day sexism and stereotypes in practice.

Between 12 and 22 October, the Portuguese University of Maia in Porto will run three workshops on Football and Gender, deconstructing cultural ideas that prevent Roma women and girls from participating in football and sport at large.

Each workshop will address the Roma community and associations that work with Roma people in the metropolitan area of Porto.

In Greece, Fare member FOUL have organised a football tournament for women’s teams from Greece and Bulgaria, which also featured a workshop with the Greek UEFA referee Thalia Misti.

In Ukraine the women's sports club NRG organised their IX Annual International Mini-Football Tournament in Kiev focused on empowering women. The initiative brought together 12 teams from Poland, Belorus, Geogria, Moldova, Germany and from various cities in Ukraine, who joined the action in solidarity with displaced women in Ukraine.

In neighbouring Russia, womens sports club Sadikova Team is teaming up with the Moscow Youth League and Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy Social Services to host a football tournament with local amateur teams and the Muslim community.

The tournament is aiming to promote sport among Muslim women living in the city and to encourage a more active role in the Russian sports community. As part of initiative comic artists will be invited to sketch the tournament for promotion in social media.

Building links beyond Europe
Inter-continental partnerships will add strength to the movement and help cascade the debates. German Fare member DISCOVER FOOTBALL will partner-up with the Brazilian Guerreiras Project to create an online booklet about the Women's World Cup ‘turf debate’ and underlying gender-based discrimination. The booklet is based on a series of workshops held on the topic of womens football in Berlin during the 2015 Women’s World Cup at the Discover Football Festival. On 20 October the group will organise a workshop in Berlin with athletes, activists and academics on the subject and hand out its first printed versions.

In Kenya, Vajana Amani Pajoma will run a football tournament on 22 October for girls and young women addressing sexual health, women’s rights and economic empowerment.

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