Empowering Girls Through Sport and Play in Senegal

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Superstar footballer Sadio Mané provides an assist as Right To Play works to increase gender equity in Senegal

Girls in Senegal dream of many of the same things that their peers around the world do: graduating from school, building a career they love, having a family, achieving their dreams.

But Senegalese girls face many more obstacles in achieving those dreams. Early marriage and pregnancy and the unequal burden of household chores conspire to keep girls out of school and the workforce. Harmful traditional practices like female genital mutilation are still commonplace, and a serious risk to girls’ health and opportunities. Access to sports, a proven contributor to the development of life skills, is also unequal – no matter how much they may want to, many girls just don’t have a chance to play. But through a new project, we’re supporting girls to break through and claim their rights and opportunities.

"There are too many girls in Senegal who simply don’t have the chance to achieve their dreams and potential just because they are girls,” Michel Diatta, Head of Office, Right To Play Senegal. “Our whole society loses when this inequality exists. We are committed to supporting them to claim their right to an education and a future, so they can change the story for girls. We are going to use sport and play as our tool.”

"I have dreams, I have ambition. I dream of going to university, have a career, become independent, and make my family proud.” – Christine Bandika, 17

The power of sport and education

No one knows more about the power of both sport and education than Senegalese football star Sadio Mané. The Liverpool FC player grew up playing football in Bambali, a rural village in southwest Senegal. On the dusty pitches of his hometown, Mané honed his skills, and sharpened his dreams for his life and career -- dreams he has achieved in his already storied football career.

Having forged a path for himself the hard way, Mané is now deeply committed to creating more and better opportunities for children and youth in his home region. Mané grew up in a family that prized education, and its importance has stayed with him to this day. His philanthropic initiatives include funding a school in his hometown. Now, as Global Ambassador for Right To Play, he’s helping raise awareness of the importance for both girls and boys to be able to access sport and education opportunities.

“It’s important to me to make sure I'm giving my voice to push girls and boys in the direction of their dreams.” – Sadio Mané
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A new project will level the playing field

Right To Play's new project in Senegal – our first in the country – will empower girls to become changemakers in their lives and in their communities. With our local and international partners, including the Liverpool Football Club Foundation, we’ll reach 10,000 youth, 600 coaches, and 89,000 community members in the regions of Sédhiou and Ziguinchor with sport and play activities that will empower girls to claim their rights, encourage positive masculinity among boys, increase action by families and communities to support gender equality, and create accountability among key institutions to uphold the rights of girls and young women. Through the project, we will also collaborate on a National Roadmap that will advance gender equality in and through sport. The Renforcement des Capacités des Filles par le Sport et le Jeu (RECAF-Jeu) project is made possible with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through Global Affairs Canada, and implementation support from the Liverpool Football Club Foundation.
Find more information on the project and Right To Play’s work in Senegal here.

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