NEW DELHI: CEQUIN India, an NGO that promotes the empowerment of women and girls to enable them to lead a life of dignity, exercise their choices and develop their capacities, organized a conference on “Gender Equality through the medium of Football: Lessons and Prospects”.
The conference was supported by Laureus Sports for Good and Model City Delhi, which is a collaborative initiative where multiple stake holders have come together promote football for girls in Seemapuri, Delhi through the 3 themes - Safe & Equal; Healthy & Clean; Skilled & Educated.
Several sessions were held Tuesday to deliberate on the empowerment of the girl child through football and dwelled on the need for building a sustainable infrastructure for all-round growth. It was also announced that the FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup will be held in India from 11th to 30th October.
The conference was attended by gender experts, sports for development experts, football administrators, players, coaches, international agencies, government officials and media. The multi-stakeholder gathering provided a vibrant, enriching environment for the exchange of ideas and knowledge sharing. The keynote speakers included dignitaries like Praful Patel, president AIFF; Susan Ferguson, Country representative, UN Women; Elina, Laureus for Good; and Sara Abdullah Pilot, chairperson of CEQUIN India.
Speaking on the occasion, Patel said: "Women's football till 15 years back was a distant dream for many of us sitting here but as the world is progressing, we see more participation of women in every field of life so football cannot be far behind. I can see that at every level, everyone feels passionate about women's game as much as men which is a good and healthy sign. We have now taken a holistic approach to build a national team and we want to ensure that girls can make a career out of football. India has transformed and women should have a choice to play football professionally. 1983 changed the face of cricket, in the coming years, we will see it happen for football and that applies to both girls and boys."
Pilot noted: "It is a great honour and privilege that India will be hosting the Under 17 FIFA World Cup for Women this year. It is so much more than just a tournament. It symbolises the strides that we have taken towards gender equality and is also a reminder of how much more there is to be done. It is only when all of us would come together that we can realise the dream of all the girls and women in the country to reach their full potential. Sport can be a great medium to break the stereotype around women and this has been proved time and again."
The sessions touched upon various aspects that would be instrumental in the growth and empowerment of girls through all-round development of outlook and grassroots development. Specific initiatives like the Model City Delhi initiative, which uses football to promote gender equality, were also discussed.
The conference also focused on gender and public spaces and explored the possibilities of engendering these through sports such as football. Challenging gender stereotypes was a key point of discussion and explored the potential of sports such as football.
Technology plays a pivotal role in all areas and one session discussed the significance of capturing data through innovative methodologies, to help capture learnings in the context of gender equality through the medium of football. It was a learning session on how to sharpen interventions through audits and measure impact for better advocacy.
It showcased various successful projects using football for gender equality and introduced role models for girls, who will include grassroots footballers as well as elite sportswomen at the national level. This highlighted the importance of sports in creating new role models for girls to emulate.
Established in 2009 by Pilot and Lora Prabhu, CEQUIN is an NGO that promotes the equal right of women and girls, to lead a violence-free life, develop their capabilities, have ownership, and control of resources and participate and be included in decision making.