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Hello everyone!

As you all know by now, the next World Table Tennis Day (WTTD) wants to contribute to the UN SDG 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. But one thing we should never forget is that this does not exclude boys or men – on the contrary! We need all the help we can get to move forward. It's time we support and encourage boys and men to be equal partners in advancing gender equality.
 
Since men and boys are active participants, as both player and spectator, sports can educate and inform about issues such as violence against women and girls. Since the world of sport is male dominated, they often are the ones in a position to make changes and decisions in order to integrate more women, we need to get boys and men on board to empower girls and women!

Sample Case: Buyobo Table Tennis Club

Do you feel overwhelmed with the idea of combining table tennis and gender equality? No need to despair, we will provide you with sample cases from the field in the coming months and guide you in the planning process up to April 6. Allow us to present the story of Kevin Mafabi, trainer in the small village of Buyobo, Uganda, who is tackling the issues of gender inequalities and gender-stereotypes at his table tennis club.

Their main mission is to help underprivileged children by offering them the opportunities that come with playing and excelling in table tennis. His club counts on an uncommonly high female participation rate: Since the beginning, girls’ interest in the sport had outweighed the boys’ and out of the first 100 players in the club, 76 were girls.
 
However, this is not the only remarkable thing about the Buyobo Table Tennis Club: an all-female organisation initiated the club’s establishment and continues to be one of the main supporters. The organisation “Women’s Microfinance Initiative” aims to combat poverty in rural areas of Uganda by empowering women with loans, so they can keep a stable livelihood. Kevin especially counts on the support from President Robyn Nietert and Chairperson Olive Walimbwa, who have encouraged and supported him not only financially when he proposed his project.
In November 2019, Kevin organised a clinic for his young players because he had noticed some tensions between girls and boys:
 
“The boys were not used to competing with girls, let alone losing to them in sports.”
 
His solution? In addition to seminars tailored to the girls and boys, he also organised a Gender Balance seminar in his table tennis club to nip the problem in the bud. With that, he addressed the following:
  • Boys were made aware and sensitised that girls are not limited to anything they can do
  • Girls can also perform better than boys in sports
  • Girls were encouraged and empowered to step up and get involved – inside the sport as well as outside the club
To wrap up the lessons learnt, everybody worked together to build their very own local table tennis table, a sustainable legacy for the progress they have achieved. Kevin liked the idea of showing the kids that everybody, no matter their gender, is a valuable member of the society and can contribute. Their very own, handcrafted table tennis table is slowly coming together. It started with one of the female players hand-weaving the net.

How to integrate gender equality in your WTTD 2021 event?

December is already here, and April 6 will come around sooner than you think. It’s time to start planning! Gather a team and organise committees, reach out to partners, sponsors or media for collaboration. Most importantly, have a clear idea about what you want to reach with your WTTD event, and, of course, register it! With the theme for the 2021 edition of FEMpowerment and Gender Equality, we are excited to see what ideas you come up with to celebrate this day and our passion for table tennis.

Here are some tips to make your WTTD event more gender-inclusive:

  • Make sure nobody feels excluded: Organising an event for FEMpowerment does not necessarily mean that only girls and women are allowed. Define your target group and align your event with your goals. Who do you want to reach? What adjustments are necessary to be inclusive?
  • The kind of event you are planning: Is it a campaign to raise awareness or a learning event? Do you want to have competitions, maybe with mixed teams, a bring-a-friend-event or workshops? Design your event and the activities according to the outcome you want to achieve and adapt accordingly.
  • Diverse representation: Who do you collaborate with, who supports or sponsors your event? Having diverse partners or speakers who also work in female empowerment or gender equality will surely step up your event for WTTD 2021!
  • Avoid gender-stereotypic language or set-ups: Make sure nobody feels limited by wording, facilities, etc. That girls only wear pink and boys blue is outdated! Be open and listen to people’s wishes and ideas. You could also show that you don’t tolerate any form of discrimination by setting up a Code of Conduct.
Most importantly, we always ask you to follow the local guidelines and measures regarding Covid-19. The planning and organisation may always be facing unexpected turns given the current situation of a global pandemic, but in order to contribute to the overall situation, we all have to do our part.
 
Keep staying positive and testing negative!
The team of the World Table Tennis Day wishes you a happy organising. Please feel free to contact us in case of questions, comments or remarks. We will be happy to read you: april6@foundation.ittf.com.
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