I am Generation Equality: Fatma Ahmed a Generation Equality Champion and Founder of the Girls’ Inclusion in Sports Campaign based in Zanzibar.
Billions of people across the world stand on the right side of history every day. They speak up, take a stand, mobilize, and take big and small actions to advance women’s rights. This is Generation Equality.
Date: Tuesday, May 5, 2020
Three things you can do to make this world gender-equal:
Promote the rights of women in sports and encourage women and girls in your community to break the barriers and realize their dreams is sports.
Be a disruptor of negative behaviors during this coronavirus crisis. Advocate for physical activity innovation for women and girls to stay healthy and families free of violence.
Challenge women and girls to claim their space in the male-dominated sports to overcome notions of associating certain sports with femininity and masculinity. Women and girls can also be champions in male-dominated sports.
I am Generation Equality because…
As a young woman living on the Island of Zanzibar, gender equality is an issue of interest in my lifetime. It’s about making sure that the views and contributions by women and girls are valued and used to further develop our social and cultural fabric; alongside the economic and political growth of Zanzibar. For years, the women’s rights advocates have advocated for a new dawn in the status of women and the girl-child in my country. A key milestone was achieved following the appointment of the first woman Vice President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Mama Samia Suluhu Hassan, who hails from Zanzibar. Her appointment was a game-changer in how women are now perceived in all sectors on our beautiful Island. I am advocating for the inclusion of women and girls in all sports discipline and her ongoing efforts have also positively impacted my campaign.
What are the most urgent issues of our time?
Mankind’s biggest challenge at the moment is how to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic that is threatening our very own existence and has flipped our normal way of life. In Zanzibar, all schools, universities and madrasas were abruptly shut down in March. Many families are staying at home and have to abide by certain rules to avoid contracting the infectious disease. Schooling has to continue at home under different circumstances we all have to survive. Young people have a critical role to play to help ease the stress their families are going through. They can help through creative activities that can support strengthening of relationships and promote peace.
What's your advice to young people on actions they can take?
Start now. When I was in secondary school a few years ago, I remember how sports were so powerful in bringing together students, teachers and the local communities. After I graduated from university, I decided to harness this life-changing potential through the Girls’ Inclusion in Sports Campaign. The idea behind this campaign is to make the participation of women and girls in all kinds of sports socially acceptable, be it in schools and in the local communities throughout Zanzibar. Growing up, I had noticed that despite the huge potential of women in sports, in many cases they were deprived of the opportunity to participate, particularly in male-dominated disciplines such as football and cricket. Working with various partners including UN Women, we have also realized how sports can promote teamwork, problem-solving and help young women to overcome stress associated with the pressures of transitioning into adulthood.
What issues do you think need to be worked on?
The corona virus crisis has presented the opportunity for us all to pay attention to other important areas of our lives we might have been neglecting, such as our health and wellbeing. To get these health tips through, we have designed online and social media physical activity packages and messages to help women and girls to take charge and help to recreate their families’ daily routines. We would like women and girls to be our champions who will reignite lost passions for sports and regular exercise. These family activities can promote teamwork and relationship-building; and also help families to overcome the stress related to the coronavirus situation.
How can men be a part of the solutions?
In Zanzibar, the participation of women in sports is about breaking the barriers that push back their full participation in sports. It’s also about empowering women and girls to know that they have the right to participate and to view sports as a career and a tool that has power to transcend boundaries of sex, race, religion and nationality.
“...view sports as a career and a tool that has power to transcend boundaries of sex, race, religion and nationality..."
Why should everyone be a women's rights activist?
Sports is an excellent strategy to promote gender equality on a global scale. When women engage in sports they begin to appreciate how deeply rooted the notions of femininity and masculinity are and how these further extend to professional sports. That is why the issue of gender equality is every woman and girl's business to make sure we all work towards balancing the scales in all sectors, including sports.