Feminist Sports Champion Toolkit
This toolkit was very much inspired by Women Win’s involvement in several different projects between 2019 and 2020. In collaboration with Gurls Talk and Nike, in the spring of 2019 Women Win (WW) launched the Made to Play (MTP) fund. This global fund aimed to strengthen the leadership of young female coaches through participation in a leadership development programme, as well as by offering small seed-grants for these coaches to develop and run their own sports programmes for girls. 17 MTP coaches were selected from 13 different countries around the world, with coaches’ projects involving various sports such as; volleyball, football, hip-hop, swimming, netball, Bollywood dancing and running.
Following this experience, at the beginning of 2020, WW, together with Skateistan launched the ROLL Models programme. Similar to MTP, ROLL Models aimed to promote female participation in skateboarding and invited young women skaters to apply for seed grants to run projects that would encourage girls across Europe to get on their boards. 26 ROLL Models were selected and projects included; summer skateboard camps, documentaries, skate sessions by and for refugees, board design workshops, zine-making and girl skate jams.
The response WW received for both these programmes was overwhelming and seeing the passion, dedication and leadership of these young women was incredibly inspiring. Both of these programmes confirmed that initiatives that actively support and encourage the development of young women-led projects are greatly needed within the sports sector.
Why now and why seed grants?
Historically, the power of girls and women to address issues, drive change and transform communities has been underestimated. In recent years however, there has been a significant shift in the visibility of youth-led activism, with girls and women working tirelessly to address diverse issues such as; climate change, education for women, period poverty and child marriage. Across the world, the voices of girls and women are finally being heard.
WW believes that girls and women are fully equipped with all the skills and expertise to change and transform their communities. Through sport, girls and women can embody leadership and exceed the gender limits placed upon them. They are powerful agents of change but there is a lack of investment in grassroot sport initiatives championed by young feminist activists.
Seed-grant programmes* are a great way to invest in grassroot, community-based projects championed by young women. There are several advantages in offering this type of programme including:
improved physical and mental health
greater economic opportunities, and
access to a wide support network
[*] It is important to note that seed-grant programmes do not just mean providing financial handouts or resources, but rather refers to a holistic programme that supports the leadership development of young women and accompanies them on their journeys. A seed-grant programme could combine small amounts of money with some sort of accompaniment such as leadership development, programme design or project management for example.
This toolkit is aimed at either (1) sport for development organisations and groups interested in taking a more feminist, girl-centred approach to their current programming, or (2) women’s rights organisations and groups looking to explore the intersect between sport and girls’ and women’s rights.
It is important to note that when referring to girls and women within this toolkit, WW motivates organisations to make their seed-grant programmes inclusive and actively look to support all cis, trans, non-binary and all other underrepresented communities such as black, indigenous, mestizas, people of colour and LGBTQIA+.
This toolkit does not tell organisations how to implement a seed-grant programme but instead takes a step-by-step approach, offering different options and case studies and encouraging organisations to discuss and reflect how seed grant programmes would be best delivered in the unique contexts in which they operate.
The toolkit actively encourages organisations to consider all of the ways in which they can shift power directly to girls and women and advocates for an intersectional feminist approach to be taken.
This toolkit hopes to contribute to the relentless and resilient organising of girls and women around the world by providing support and guidance to organisations looking to support their initiatives by offering seed-grant programmes.
Harnessing all of the learnings from Made to Play and ROLL Models, this toolkit will act as a guide for organisations looking to increase leadership in sport, promote gender equity and inspire the next generation of girls to be empowered, active and healthy through sport.