There are few girls who have never feared for their own safety. Across the globe, in urban and rural environments, girls walk home from school with the risk of being robbed, raped or harassed. To participate in a sport programme, girls and their caregivers have to feel safe when travelling to and from trainings and events, and throughout the entire practice and competition. In conflict zones, it is sometimes dangerous for women to simply be outside. It is important for sport programmes to first identify what the threat to safety is and then devise strategies for protecting girls from those threats.
- Engage female coaches and trainers who can create safe spaces. They can help the girls feel emotionally and physically secure and comfortable within their sport environment. (For more information on creating safe spaces, see the Safe Spaces section of the guide.)
- Communicate with supportive families about the programmes and involve them, in different ways, in the sport and physical activity. When the families of participants are supportive of their daughters’ decision to take part in sport, girls are more likely to continue attending and thrive within a programme.
- Include girls in the creation and implementation of child protection policies within the organisation. Girls who know what their rights to safety are can better demand those rights when they are lacking. (For more information on child protection policies, see Child Protection in the Safe Spaces section of the guide.)
- Schedule programme activities at appropriate times of the day (determined by the community, but certainly before dusk).
- Teach girls to recognise potentially dangerous situations or areas in their community.
- Arrange suitable transportation for getting girls to and from programme sites.
- Organise groups to walk home together in order to reduce vulnerability.
- Invite a qualified instructor, preferably a woman, to teach girls basic self-defence skills.
- Consider how to grow with girls’ safety in mind. For example, as programmes evolve, it is likely that more girls will travel beyond the confines of their community or village to participate in sport or related activities. Their safety must be ensured.
- To avoid fear and suspicion from the parents, inform them about the time the girls will be home and plan a safe way of getting them there.
- Develop a strategy for communicating with parents and caregivers in case an external emergency arises during a practice or game (i.e., natural disaster or political unrest).
- Consider choice of the sport facility. It may be necessary for your programme to hold trainings and events indoors because it may be culturally inappropriate or dangerous for girls to play outside.