EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN AND YOUTH THROUGH SPORT
In 2013, the United Nations declared April 6th the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP). It stems from the understanding of the immense potential of sport in improving and promoting health, education as well as social and economic development. Since then, the approach to use sport as a powerful tool for fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) gained a greater worldwide recognition.
Whether individual or team sports, physical activities bring along many empowering benefits on different levels. Sport holds a unifying power of mobilising people and building up strong social networks. It is a great tool for education as well as for building and strengthening the character of young individuals: crucial values can be taught and trained through sport. Group sport activities, for instance, can create a feeling of connection, belonging and foster team work abilities. Moreover, sport can combat inequalities by breaking religious, cultural, racial or gender-based boundaries and biases that are existing in society – and leaving values such as equality, respect, accepting of rules, solidarity and fairness. Sport can be an integrative system that is especially beneficial for the empowerment of individuals from poorer and disadvantaged backgrounds. Considering these inherent characteristics of sports, it becomes clear that it is beneficial to implement sport activities as a means of promoting peace and development.
At the PEHI, different sorts of sport exercise are being offered regularly for the students like kick boxing, table tennis, running and currently yoga trainings. The word ‘yoga’ derives from Indian Sanskrit and means to join or to unite. It is an exercise form of personal empowerment that follows a therapeutically holistic approach of fostering physical and psychical health. Emphasising the unity of all things and humans, yoga reflects a concept that is very close to the UN goals of sustainability and peace. Getting familiar with simple exercises can not only help the students of PEHI to become more stress resilient and being able to study with better concentration – but also to work on their self-confidence, as yoga is a practice of self-discovery, acceptance, care and awareness of the body and mind. Physical yoga techniques, for example how to protect and strengthening the spine and back, are especially vital for the students to remain a healthy body and prevent future injuries in the field of gastronomy and housekeeping work. Therefore, we wish that the student will acquire some helpful methods which they can implement in challenging times of their future work and life.
Internationally, governments should invest more into integrating sport practices in the national educational approaches in order to fulfil SDG number three that focuses on ensuring a healthy life and promoting wellbeing at all ages. Whereby not only the “elite” sports like professional soccer should be promoted, rather emphasise could be put on the incorporation of basic physical education in schools, colleges or community centers. It is significant to provide safe and free public spaces that are offering physical activities for young people to develop their skills and personalities and prevent many difficulties that they might have to face in their daily lives. If there will be more encouragement of the youth and opportunities created to take up physical exercises, sport can become integral to everyday life and more people will be able to enjoy the benefits of sport.
Thus, let us strive for the empowering attributes of physical activity for women and youth. And publicise the importance of the IDSDP day, which celebrates the power of sports in promoting peace and development. Because in the end, sport is an investment that you can benefit from for the entire life!
Written by Mera Dellin