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Soccer Without Borders Uganda on Sport’s role in Gender Equality

March 5, 2021 

In honour of Women’s History Month and the upcoming International Women’s Day (IWD), this month we are checking in with the 2020 Sport for Gender Equality Collective Impact Award winners. Today, Catherine ‘Coach Mina’ Kabanyana, Senior Program Coordinator at Soccer Without Borders Uganda (SWBU) speaks on UN Women’s IWD 2021 theme - Women in Leadership, instituting internal gender practices and what it’s been like to collaborate with the other Collective Impact winners so far. 

SWBU is a leader within the country and across the East African region when it comes to advancing gender equality on the pitch, on the sidelines and in organisations. Their core programming in the nation’s capital of Kampala serves over 300 refugee youth a day with 15-20 hours per week of direct service football, literacy and life-skill classes. 48% of their participants are girls. 

“Before we evaluated ourselves and made informed changes using a gender equality lens five years ago, the percentage of girls playing was less that 10%,” shares Coach Mina

Coach Mina feels that IWD means continuing to celebrate women in sports - both those on the frontline and those behind the scenes. “With Women In Leadership as the theme this year, I think back to our East Africa Global Goal 5 Accelerator in Kampala last year. It brought together so many great female leaders (and a few men). It was inspiring and motivating to join together and work towards moving the needle and create change in regards to women’s leadership on the pitch, on the sidelines and in our organizations.” 

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Supported by Comic Relief and the BT Supporters Club, including grant funding and a comprehensive business support package, SWBU and three other organisations across east and Southern Africa were selected to work together over one year. They are benefitting from each other’s individual expertise, sharing best practice and working through issues in real-time to drive real, sustainable impact through sport. 

SWBU has been very active in the group workshops, facilitated by our sister consultancy thinkBeyond, and greatly values the opportunity to connect with like-minded organisations that share strong commitments to gender equality and gender equity. 

“It's been interesting to learn what other organizations are doing in this field and compare them to the policies we have created at SWB. We have already made a few tweaks based on several conversations, as I’m sure others have done as well.”

SWBU took part in a second self-assessment as part of the process, which Coach Mina explains is a good way to check their growth and adapt. It helped them understand where they’ve made progress, such as in recruiting new female coaches and designing and implementing a gender equitable budget. “We also learned to incorporate more diverse voices in the self-assessment process this time around. We used two men and two women from four different staff levels to get a more diverse set of opinions and perspectives.”

Hoping to continue to strengthen their processes and make it easier to directly teach youth coaches, Coach Mina “wants to continue sharing these practices with other community coaches, sport-for-development organizations and football academies through our Goal 5 Projects.”

“As more of our girls have engaged in football, we have seen incredible personal development from them off the field. They have gained incredible confidence in interacting with their peers, coaches, families and community members. We have also seen huge gains in their abilities to express themselves and their emotions. In fact, our female athletes actually express themselves significantly better than their male counterparts now. I think this goes to show that sometimes girls just need an opportunity, and maybe a small encouraging push,” she finished.

Watch Coach Mina's 2020 Beyond Sport Global Awards Campaign interview with Sports Anchor and Presenter Motshidisi Mohono here.


Togethxr to focus attention on women in sports and media