Influencing social Behavioral change through Football competitions

By Habiba Isa Gaude On Monday, July 31, 2023

Football, beloved worldwide, has evolved into a powerful tool for social change. One area where it plays a significant role is in raising awareness about gender-based violence (GBV) in communities. By harnessing the universal appeal of football competitions, organizations and community leaders are conveying the message that violence against women and girls is unacceptable and must be actively combated. This article explores how football competitions are effectively creating awareness, sparking conversations, fostering empathy, and driving positive change within communities, with a focus on Motherhen Development Foundation's innovative youth-centered approach, supported by the Oxfam-Voice project.

The unparalleled appeal of football transcends boundaries, uniting people of diverse backgrounds, cultures, and languages under a shared passion. With its ability to break down barriers and foster a sense of belonging, football serves as a perfect platform for initiating meaningful discussions on pressing social issues like GBV, engaging both men and women in the conversation.

Motherhen Development Foundation- Voice project organizes football competitions as magnets, drawing communities together for a shared experience. By organizing local football competitions between Senior and Junior Secondary schools in Voice project communities and incorporating GBV awareness events, MDF successfully engages community members as players, spectators, and volunteers. This fosters a sense of ownership and responsibility for the cause, making people more receptive to the messaging.

To address the pressing issue of GBV in BIU community, MDF's Voice project team organizes girls' football competitions aimed at creating awareness and promoting equality. These competitions empower girls, providing a platform to showcase their talent, boost confidence, and challenge gender stereotypes. By integrating awareness messages during matches, MDF educates the masses, encouraging them to question harmful behaviors and foster respect for girls and women.

Football competitions and awareness campaigns prompt discussions about harmful gender norms perpetuating GBV. By critically examining these norms, communities work towards dismantling the root causes of violence, fostering a society that values respect, empathy, and equality. Engaging male youth (aged 14 to 18) in football tournaments is a crucial part of this effort. The competitions raise awareness about GBV, educate participants about healthy relationships, encourage them to challenge harmful gender norms, and promote traits like teamwork, respect, and non-violence.

Football competitions serve as a catalyst for transformative shifts in attitudes and behaviors within communities. They encourage individuals to become active advocates against GBV and create a safer, more inclusive society for everyone. However, it is essential to recognize that football competitions alone cannot entirely eradicate GBV. They serve as a starting point, igniting conversations and encouraging actions that must extend beyond the playing field. Combining football's unifying power with comprehensive educational programs, policy changes, and support services will lead to more meaningful and lasting progress in the fight against gender-based violence.

Football, as the beautiful game, holds the power to drive social change and combat gender-based violence. When used strategically, football competitions spark awareness, empower individuals, and challenge harmful gender norms, fostering a more equitable society. To achieve lasting progress, it is vital to complement football initiatives with comprehensive measures that address the root causes of GBV, promoting respect, empathy, and equality for all. Together, we can leverage the love for football to create a world free from gender-based violence.

Keywords: The Beauiful game for an empowering mind

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Habiba Isa Gaude

Habiba Isa Gaude is the gender desk officer and the communication officer on the Voice project implemented by Motherhen Development Foundation. Habiba has 3+ years experience working as program officer for Strengthening Local Women Right Organizations to combat Violence Against Women and Girls ( SLOC-VAWG). She is experienced in the use of communication for social mobilization. She is skilled in project management, Social Mobilization and Monitoring and Evaluation.

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