A majority of the worlds’ 628 million unemployed young people are girls and young women. [1] Barriers caused by gender inequity often prevent girls from finishing their education and, consequently, building the skills they need to access decent work and break the cycle of poverty. Child marriage and gender based violence, as examples, can cause girls to drop out of school and “limits their opportunities for community participation, including employment". According to the Population Council, a delayed marriage or living free from violence allows a girl, “her family, community, and country experience better health, economic, and social outcomes.” [2]

If adolescent girls and young women do find work, it is often unseen, undervalued, and many times dangerous. They are the primary caretakers of younger children and perform most domestic work. In desperate situations, their sexuality is used as a currency to support their families and themselves.

Women Win has seen how sport can be an effective tool to develop girls’ and young women’s leadership, and ultimately, provide pathways toward economic empowerment. Over the past several years, Women Win has developed the Leadership and Economic Empowerment Pathway (LEEP) -- an innovative framework that uses sport to support and accelerate leadership development among adolescent girls, guiding them through structured pathways toward targeted educational, entrepreneurial or career oriented goals.

Through LEEP, organisations can create sustainable sport programmes that develop female role models, provide jobs to girls who have completed the programme, and create pathways that prepare graduates to continue their education, start their own business, or become employed.  LEEP can also aid organisations in reaching more girls for less cost.

Over the course of several years, Women Win has collaborated with experts in the fields of sport for development and economic empowerment, members of the Women Win’s Advisory Council and, most importantly, with a diverse group of grassroots practitioners and adolescent girls and young women (AGYW), to share their perspectives on income generation and knowledge on addressing economic empowerment and leadership through sport. These individuals work in women’s rights, sport and development, economic development, and in social enterprises and businesses large and small.  Women Win programme partners generously provided detailed data and market insights, and patiently answered our questions. 

The result of this collective learning is the Leadership and Economic Empowerment Guide.  This Guide works in tandem with Women Win’s International Guide to Developing Sport Programmes for Girls (IG) to assist organisations to build effective and sustainable sport programmes. Women Win has demonstrated that sport can have a powerful effect on building economic, emotional and physical self-determination in girls, as well as changing the cultural limits they face.  In this update, Women Win highlights the peer leadership and economic empowerment work of its programme partners, and shares strategies to reach more girls and enhance organisational and programme sustainability.

Leadership and Sport

Women Win believes that sport has unique elements that are instrumental in developing the leadership of adolescent girls and young women (AGYW). Sport cultivates the leadership...

Leadership and Economic Empowerment

In recent years, increased awareness that empowering women is “good for business” has spurred the private and public sectors to invest significant resources in programmes that aim...

Sport and Economic Empowerment

Sport is a valuable tool for teaching leadership skills as well as transferable life and livelihood skills. In addition, sport is a very lucrative global market. The global sports...

LEEP Strategy

Women Win has demonstrated that sport can have a powerful effect on building the economic, emotional and physical self-determination of girls, as well as changing the cultural...


In August 2015, countries united behind and adopted a new sustainable development agenda, consisting of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets that aim to end...

About This Guideline

Creative Commons We are releasing our official Leadership and Economic Empowerment Through Sport Guideline under the Creative Commons license. Target Audience The Guide is written...

[1] “Young, Woman and Unemployed: The Triple Challenge.” Plan International, 2015