While the concept of putting girls in positions of leadership is simple, the execution can be challenging.  In order to discover their own strengths and preferences, girls need support and many different types of opportunities to practice them. It requires an investment in resources to prepare girls to take on peer leadership roles and then extra time to ensure their success, by providing ongoing feedback and support.  Even with preparation, it can be challenging to determine when a girl is ready to lead in a high stakes competition. Women Win asked eight programme partners to report on the ‘total number of adolescent girls and young women who hold leadership positions in the sport programme’ and the types of leadership roles they hold.  In the first year, 909 AGYW (7%) held leadership positions in their sports programme. Programme partners report that the types of positions that girls hold include: peer leaders, referees, first aiders, coaches, life skills trainers/assistants, club leaders (Chair, Secretary, Treasurer), session organisers, jersey captains, community sports coach (CSC), team captains/assistants, and life skills ‘governors’ or assistants, amongst others.  What is evident in their feedback is the wisdom of creating a multitude of roles, both formal and informal, to allow girls to find their own path to leadership.

The following list of tips comes from the experiences of Women Win programme partners who are pursuing a peer leadership approach:

  • Be patient. Leadership is a skill that is developed over time. Ask girls what they are good at and how they want to build their skills and confidence. Encourage them to lead their own development
  • Allow girls to elect their own leaders
  • Highlight examples of good leadership on and off the playing field
  • Let girls train others in sport-specific, practical, and life skills
  • Show girls you value their opinions
  • Explicitly talk about and encourage discussions about leadership values to girls regularly
  • Lead by example as a coach or programme leader
  • Support positive role model behaviour
  • Allow girls to choose if they want to fill leadership roles
  • Encourage girls to go out in the community and be recognised
  • Reward acts of leadership with outward praise and formal honours
  • Create standards of what it takes to be a leader for girls with and without disabilities
  • Reward exceptional performance with leadership roles
  • Give all girls opportunities to lead during practice, not just the older, talented, non-disabled or more natural leaders
  • Constantly encourage goal setting and evaluation
  • Target inhibitors of leadership – such as lack of confidence, peer pressure or poor mentoring – and address them
  • Aim to help every girl develop to her highest personal potential, as opposed to constantly criticising or comparing the girls to one another
  • Recognise quiet leadership in girls: those who are not outspoken or loud but, for example, will always run the extra lap with the slowest girl on the team


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