Dear <<First Name>>,
One day to commemorate, one day to push the agenda for everyday Gender Equality
Friday 8th March, last week, saw the celebration of the International Women’s Day. A commemoration of the fight for women’s right in the beginning of the 20th century and time to discuss equal opportunities further.
Indeed the last century brought many positive steps towards equal opportunities, right to vote, open a bank account, be elected in the government, first woman pilot, marathon runner, etc. depending on the country, these milestones may vary but the struggle remains. If you are a woman and enjoying all these rights, please consider that they are possible thanks to passionate women fighting for them.
Yet just on a Table Tennis participation scale, in many places around the world, women’s participation is often limited due to reasons such as:
- Heavy domestic demands
- Safety concerns
- Lack of accessible transportation
- Inadequate sport recreation facilities
In addition to this is the still common believe that women are weaker and need protection the socio-cultural norms and constraints preventing girls and women from being physically active such as, leaving home unaccompanied or being seen by men outside their family, are additional barriers preventing girls and women from becoming involved in sport and physical activity.
Help us and fight for more female involvement in table tennis, starting on April 6!
Understand the main barriers to their lack of participation through speaking with a few of them.
Once you have identified what the limiting factors are its time to find a solution:
- What is your local reality, what do you have to consider?
- Do you offer a safe place to change or do you even let them play in their own clothes in case they feel more comfortable?
- Do you offer an open dialogue and offer a safe place to discuss any kind of issues?
- Can they count on a safe transportation to practice and back?
- Are you able to provide education about hygienic menstrual management and facilities to access nearby?
- Do you provide positive experiences for girls and women? (What about offering more sessions for girls than for boys to empower them additionally?)
- Do you give them the possibility to re-join your activities in case they have home duties to fulfill?
- Are babies and small children welcome? Do you offer additional activities so that their mothers can play?
- What about group activities for group of friends? Many girls may have a strong sense of belonging to their group and would like to train together.
And last but not least: Offer them leadership roles, problem saving roles and recognition! Become a leading organisation in terms of female participation!
Absar Welfare Foundation setting the example
To provide a concrete example let us have a look at, Mian Absar Ali from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan, a former national table tennis player who dropped out his career as an athlete to fight against injustice in his country.
He sold his house to create Absar Welfare Foundation and a club, where now he lives. He then created the project Search of Pearls. To motivate girls, women and their families to play table tennis, his idea was to provide an income as incentive for girls to play regularly.
It was a difficult start for Absar Welfare Foundation due to fear of the violent situation in the country. But 5 years later Absar Welfare Foundation is officially established and faces a better present with 10 clubs gathering about 500 regular players in rural and urban areas of Pakhtunkhwa.
(Search of Pearls project, Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan - Photo: Absar Welfare Foundation)
Nowadays, the Foundation has a professional team involving coaches, an accountant, social activists, journalists and ambassadors, who help to organise the following activities which you could also run on April 6:
Mixed gender Table Tennis training camp.
Leadership and character building activities for participants.
Organise table tennis training camps in a different safe location that is more attractive to women, near nature for example, where they may escape their local reality and enjoy playing.
Promote activities in paper and electronic media to empower players and attract others featuring women participation in a positive light.