International Women’s Day 2020
The Different Shapes & Forms of Female Empowerment
Across the world women are using football in the push toward a more gender equal world.
Depending on where that may be, female empowerment can take multiple different shapes and forms.
For International Women’s Day 2020 we spoke to a number of young female players asking them to identify what that looks like for them.
They all chose objects that empower them to take a leading role on the pitch, in their communities and in society.
Here are their stories in their own words.
Esther Rønn Rønn, FC Nordsjælland, Denmark
This is a football but it’s not just any football.
It's a school yard football. It reminds me of all the good moments I've had in the playground playing with all my friends.
Through my career as a footballer, whenever times have been hard at the club, I have always confided back to the joy of the schoolyard.
I think the most important thing this ball has given me is joy.
It was a place where you could always play for fun. You could practice your tricks, you can play together.
With this ball, you didn’t have to follow the rules as much as you have to do at a club. You can play your own style, being as creative as you like, all the time.
The school yard has taught me about inclusion and teamwork.
You can’t be selfish and dribble all the time. Sometimes there are 20 people on the pitch, it’s impossible.
You have no choice but to play together and make the most of your team.
Carol, Angaza, Kenya
The Kenyan flag represents the environment that our government is now creating for women in our country.
At the top is the colour black that represents the black people in Kenya. The white represents peace. The red represents the blood that was shed during the struggle for independence. And the green is the land. The shield represents the struggle for power and for independence.
In the past, in many positions, women were not represented. But today the government are creating better opportunities for women, in every county.
Seeing a woman as head of Interior Security and being included in the cabinet is something that had not happened before in our country.
Every time I look at my flag, it inspires me to make Kenya a better country.
Every time I look at the problems in our country, I say to myself: ‘I'm going to make a change,’ or ‘it's me who will make that change’.
Havera, Champions Ohne Grenzen, Germany
I was given the ring three years ago by a friend. We both bought the same one for one another. We bought them before she left Germany. Since then I’ve been living here alone.
Wearing it together made us feel better. It was something that we could have to remember each other by. I’ve never taken it off.
On the ring is a bird. The bird is a national symbol in Albania – where I’m from. It immediately reminded me of my family and freedom.
Freedom for me is living where ever you want, being able to be whoever you want to be, and doing whatever you want to do.
When I’m feeling low, it helps remind me of my family and that I’m lucky to have one in a world where many people don’t.
It’s important to me, because it makes me feel like I’m not alone and that I can be as free as a bird.
Elizabeth Mabu Selah, Amandla, South Africa
The minute I blow my whistle people run towards me.
I bring attention to myself and to addressing issues that young people are facing.
It's a tool that I use to communicate with my players, the tool that guides me to change people’s lives through football.
I'm working with young people from the same community that I grew up in. Knowing the community and having been around the challenges that young people are facing, instead of going to university I applied for this internship [with Amandla] because it's going to bring me closer to these young people.
Amandla gave me the opportunity to me believe that as a woman, I can be a coach, I can be a referee - I can do whatever I want in sport.
I know a lot of young girls who want to be coaches.
This whistle can empower them to also venture into a sports career if they want to.
Marta Martorell Crespo, FC Barcelona Foundation
I wore this shirt for the first time when I was 12-years-old, playing football for the first time on the pitch.
I did not know what football was because I’d only seen it on TV. Little by little, it has become very important in my life.
When I wear this shirt I feel brave and proud to play this sport.
I love being part of the women’s football community, which is growing day by day.
Thaint, Football United, Myanmar (coaching shirt)
I love football and my players love football. Football is everything to me.
But there are lots of difficulties for us women to play football in Myanmar.
Most parents don’t want their daughters to play football because of our traditions. Women in my country are expected to stay at home.
Becoming a coach, I have learnt so much about myself.
I’m now a leader and I want to use football to change young girls’ mind-sets in our society, to believe that that they too can become leaders.
I love my culture and am proud to be from Myanmar but I also want to raise awareness in my community, among women and children, because they could benefit from playing football.
Eimy Bolanos Sanchez, Seprojoven, Costa Rica (football shirt & bracelet)
To me, a football shirt represents a space. One where I can play, take pleasure in, and enjoy football.
The pitch is a space, we as women, already have that empowers us.
The game attracts people from all walks of life. It’s where I feel enriched by others around me, from different backgrounds, where each person bringing their own abilities and sharing it with the team.
Playing football and wanting to improve as a player has helped me understand there is room to grow as an individual and a woman.
To me, my bracelet is a decision. One that I chose to make by wearing every single day.
It’s no different from the decisions I choose to make regarding the values and attitudes I wear in life. These decisions are the foundations of my character.
The diversity of people’s personalities should be celebrated. How we construct ourselves, day by day, through these decisions, means we have the ability to choose to become better people.
Our identity is something that belongs to us. My shirt and bracelet is a reminder of who I am and who I want to be.
Pamella Alves De Holanda Lima, Fundação Gol de Letra, Brazil (whistle)
On the pitch, whether you are coaching or refereeing, everyone is looking at you, you are the star of the show.
When I start a class, as soon as I put my whistle around my neck it brings me strength.
It's the same whistle my dad bought me as a gift more than eight years ago. I can't change it. I’ve taken it with me everywhere and use it non-stop.
When I first started using it I was a different person. I was more cautious and didn’t take risks. I felt a little bit insecure.
I was hesitant, and felt comfortable staying safe in my silence. Sometimes I would even forget I was wearing it.
But slowly I started to enjoy it.
Nowadays it’s not just important to me but for the players I coach too. When the girls hear it, they know they’re on the pitch.