Empower young women in Iraq through sports
In Iraq, the public role of young women and girls, and the independence they are afforded, is a complicated one. Social progress has occurred in fits and starts, at times spurred by civil society and others hindered by war and extremist ideology.
When it comes to sports, young women and girls continue to face cultural barriers that limit, and in some cases preclude, them from fully participating in the type of activities that develop their self-confidence, leadership skills, and social aptitude. Unfortunately, even using public spaces for physical activities can be off-limits. More recently, COVID-19 lockdowns only amplified these challenges.
One local organization, Free to Run, helps women and girls safely and boldly engage in outdoor activities in Iraq and other conflict-affected countries. Through a combination of sports programs, life skills development, and community outreach, they provide young women the opportunity to independently step out into public spaces and challenge prevailing views about their roles in society.
In collaboration with the US Consulate in Erbil, Spirit of America has partnered with Free to Run to sponsor 75 women and girls to participate in three sports empowerment events: the Erbil Marathon, a 5k race, and a camp sports day event. We are also providing five-month stipends for three essential Free to Run staff members to assist in organizing the empowerment activities and other programs.
Your support will create leaders capable of challenging social norms and making a positive change in their communities. Help us improve the lives of women and girls in Iraq.