Moving The Goalposts (Kenya) visits parents and helps them to create daily schedules with their daughters so that the girls can attend sport sessions and complete chores at home. Other organisations have taken steps to provide childcare at sport sessions so that girls can bring their young siblings with them.
Experience from women’s organisations dealing with sensitive and possible culturally contentious issues has shown that it is important to involve the community in programme planning. For example, in implementing a programme to reduce female genital mutilation (cutting) in Ethiopia, Women Win partner Kembatta Mentti Gezzima (Ethiopia) found that rather than replicating an approach from another context, it was more effective to seek local community input on possible solutions to the problem of female genital mutilation. They invited stakeholders to community discussion groups in which they created a space for open discussion, with agreement that there would be no judgement or intimidation on whatever was brought up by participants. The result of these open discussions has been a reduction in cases of female genital mutilation in the community as well as new initiatives started by community members to further address this issue.
Youth Empowerment Foundation (Nigeria) has regular meetings with local government officials to inform them about the success of their programme and to build their relationship with these leaders for continued future support.
 Womenkind Worldwide Report: http://www.womankind.org.uk/
An organisation’s community engagement strategy is dependent on the community groups and stakeholders who have impact on the lives of the girls in the programme. These groups and stakeholders will vary by country, programme, and location within a country. For example, in religiously devout communities, religious leaders are very important stakeholders who often have a vested interest in monitoring the role of girls in their community, and have the ability to bring a girls’ sport programme to a halt. Another important stakeholder group is parents and caregivers, whose permission and support is essential to girls’ participation in sport. In many places, caregivers give daughters the responsibility of important household tasks as well as caretaking of younger siblings. Some organisations have met resistance from caregivers in allowing their daughters to participate in sport programmes because they think that the girls will then not be able to take care of their household duties.
Oftentimes, fathers and mothers (or male caregivers and female caregivers) have different motivations for keeping their daughters out of sport programmes or different reasons why they might support their daughters. It is essential to understand these motivations and reasons before creating an approach, avoiding a ‘one size fits all’ approach.
Create a Stakeholder Map
There are many different ways to involve the various stakeholders in a community in order to gain their support for a programme. When planning a community engagement strategy for any girls’ sport programme, the essential first step is to create a list or map of all potential stakeholders and groups in the community in which you will work. Once you agree upon the players involved, you can create approaches for each group individually. Involving the girls in this process of mapping the stakeholders in the community will also allow you to understand whom they view as the most important supporters, or opponents, to their participation in sport.
There are often tensions between different members of a community, which makes it a complex process to involve the entire community in the building and support of a girls’ sport programme. Different stakeholders in the girls’ lives have different ideas of what the role of girls should be in the community and what is good for the girls. These tensions are particularly prevalent when it comes to girls’ sport, because in many contexts in which girls’ sport initiatives are being started, girls playing sport is a historical cultural taboo. For this reason, engaging the entire community when planning and implementing a girls’ sport programme is highly advisable.
The simplest tactic for this type of engagement is simply sitting down with stakeholders, in an intimate meeting and telling them about your proposed programme. You should also ask their opinions and suggestions about the programme. Many organisations do this in the form of community forum meetings or visits to the homes of participants.