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 industry is expected to reach 73.5 billion dollars in 2019.[1] Unfortunately, girls and women’s access to and participation in this industry is extremely low. The 2016 Gender Balance in Global Sport report found that a “vast” gender wage gap exists within sport, with female athletes battling for better pay in a billion-dollar industry that remains predominantly male”.[2]  Not only are women and girls rarely benefiting from sport financially, but they often have no opportunity to participate in sport programmes because families consider such ‘leisure activities’ as frivolous and they reduce time for household duties. 

If an adolescent girl or young woman can demonstrate her capacity to generate future income for her family through her participation in a sport programme, she becomes an economic agent better placed to have a voice in the decisions that affect her life.  Sport programmes, supported by explicit leadership development, community partnerships and mentoring, not only give girls access to this large market opportunity but also provide experiences that can teach valuable transferable life and livelihood skills, which can then allow them to act on opportunities in front of them.

Economic empowerment can be integrated into girls’ sport programmes in a variety of ways, such as:

  • Offering participants opportunities to earn money by providing services within the programme, such as coaching, officiating, or washing and repairing uniforms;
  • Creating opportunities for girls to learn and practice skills. Computer and office skills can be learned through volunteering in the office and keeping practice, tournament and other administration records;
  • Providing school scholarship support for girls who exhibit extraordinary leadership as part of the programme;
  • Teaching girls math, reading, and verbal skills;
  • Educating girls on managing and earning money or opening a savings account;
  • Helping girls to develop marketable skills to secure jobs in the community;
  • Encouraging girls to develop a sense of financial independence and confidence in their ability to earn money;
  • Training girls on operating a microbusiness, either one they might start themselves in the future or helping an existing small family business.

Women Win takes a market-based, industry sector approach to economic empowerment.  Years of work with grassroots programmes around the world has confirmed that successful economic empowerment strategies begin with a viable market opportunity.  Particularly in developing countries and weak economies, any initiative must be practical, financially self-sustaining, and provide an immediate benefit to the girls and women participating in the programme.  While most sectors of the economy provide opportunities for the economic empowerment of girls and women, Women Win’s programme partners have found that the following sectors offer the greatest economic success for women:

Agriculture:  agricultural processing, value-added products, and food security
Tourism:  hotel, restaurant and event management, handicraft, guide and cultural interpretation services
Sport:  education and training, facilities and membership businesses, equipment and gear
Products and Services:  consumer goods, personal care, health care, information/communications and technology (ICT), and financial services