I am Generation Equality: Fatma Ahmed, activist for women’s inclusion in sport

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.

I am Generation Equality because…The attainment of all of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) depends on the equal and meaningful participation of women and men in all sectors.

As a young woman living on the Island of Zanzibar, gender equality is my issue. It’s about making sure that the views and contributions of 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 girls in my country. As a young woman, I am also playing a role by advocating for the inclusion of women and girls in sport.

Sport as a tool in advancing gender equality

Growing up, I noticed that despite the huge potential of women in sports, in many cases they were deprived of the opportunity to participate.

In Zanzibar, [we need to] break the barriers that hold women and girlsback from participating in sport. It’s also about empowering women and girls so that they know that they have the right to participate and to see sport as a career and a tool that has power to transcend the boundaries of sex, race, religion and nationality.Working with partners, including UN Women, we realized how sport can promote teamwork, problem-solving and help young women overcome the pressures of transitioning into adulthood.

When women engage in sport, they begin to appreciate how deeply rooted the notions of femininity and masculinity are.

It is every woman and girl’s business to make sure we all work towards gender equality and balancing the scales in all sectors, including sport.

Igniting our innovation during COVID-19

The biggest challenge at the moment is how to defeat a pandemic that is threatening our very existence and has flipped our normal way of life. Young people have a critical role to play to help ease the stress that their families are going through.

During the International Day of Sports for Development and Peace, (6 April), the Girls’ Inclusion in Sports Campaign, in partnership with UN Women, launched an online initiative to promote sport and physical activity among women and girls.

The COVID-19 crisis has presented the opportunity to pay attention to other important areas of our lives we may have been neglecting, such as our health and well-being. As part of the campaign, we designed online and social media physical activity packages and messages to help women and girls take charge and help create healthy routines for themselves and their families.

Three things you can do to become part of Generation Equality:

Promote the rights of women in sport and encourage women and girls in your community to break the barriers and realize their dreams.
Be a disruptor of negative behaviours during this coronavirus crisis. Advocate for physical activity and innovation for women and girls to stay healthy and for families to stay free of violence.
Challenge women and girls to claim their space in the male-dominated sport sector.

Fatma Ahmed, 25, is a Generation Equality Champion and Founder of the Girls’ Inclusion in Sports Campaign based in Zanzibar, Tanzania.