Female Role Models in Sentani
September 11, 2014. Sometimes change is hard to see. We are working for the second year with Uni Papua in Sentani, near the city of Jayapura. In the past year Uni Papua has grown to four communities surrounding this beautiful tropical lake. These are communities who have a strong desire to use sport for social impact, who recognize the power of football for social change instead of trying to create top-level footballers. These are also communities where it is common to take a boat to get to school and where the million plus inhabitant city of Jayapura seems decades away instead of just 50 short kilometers. It is hard to believe that this vast country of Indonesia can have so many different geographical differences, as well as differences within its population, each coming from distinct tribes and unique islands.
While it might be easy to focus on some of the social issues that exist in Papua including high HIV rates and tribal conflict, that means you may be missing some of the other positive changes that have occurred since CAC was here last year.
The most impactful game of the week was Marta for Gender Equity, a scrimmage game with a strong message that has certain coaches sitting out for extended stretches of time. These substitutes learn what it feels like to be forcibly left-out, simulating the feelings of young girls who are not permitted or encouraged to play. By the end of the game, the coaches who were not permitted to play were visibly affected, and this lesson can help change their perspective on the right for everyone to play sport, regardless of gender or ability.
On our final day of coaching, Touska Iba came up to us and said how proud she was that more women attended our trainings this year. Last year, she was the only female coach (out of 26) and this year there were eight women coaches (out of 54). Although far from a 50/50 split, it a real progress, from 3.8% up to 14.8%. This progress demonstratively shows young boys and girls that equality should exist and that equitability is getting better. We need more positive male and female role models to continue to make real efforts to ensure that gender equity is more than just a statement, and that it becomes a reality. Hopefully within their lifetime, with the efforts of people like Touska, it will not be strange to see even numbers of boys and girls playing for coaches of either gender.