Moving the Goalposts (MTG) work with around 5’000 girls per year to address and advance gender equality, increase knowledge of reproductive health, and enable and improve school attendance, reducing the growing feminisation of poverty in Kenya.
Problem to be tackled
MTG empowers girls in rural Kilifi, on the coast of Kenya. These districts are the poorest in Kenya with 70% below the poverty line. Low school retention, early pregnancies and forced marriages trap girls in a cycle of intense poverty. Only around 20% of girls transition from Primary to Secondary school, meaning 240’000 girls aged 9-25 in Kilifi are out of school and probably out of work.
Women in this age bracket in Kenya are four times more likely to be infected with HIV than men in the same group. Girls as young as 10 are exposed to sex tourism and one in every four women aged 15-19 has a child. Access or knowledge to sexual and reproductive health and services is low.
Moving the Goalposts is a community-based organisation that, since 2002, uses an award-winning football curriculum to empower girls and young women. It brings girls together in a safe space where they can play football, organise their own activities, become leaders and where they can discuss issues that matter for them growing up in Kilifi, Kenya.
Many people could see that there were huge gender differences being experienced by men, women, boys and girls in Kilifi in terms of opportunities in school, health, leadership roles and employment. MTG thought of taking a new approach using football in order to get to the heart of some of the problems faced by girls and women in Kilifi. With a small amount of money from the British Council the project was set up, with advice and support from Moving the Goalposts UK, a registered charity in the UK. More girls and young women started to get engaged playing football and attending tournaments organised by MTG. Nowadays there are around 5’000 players whereas in 2002 the project started with only 120 players.
Girls and women in Kilifi are some of the world’s poorest and most disadvantaged people. 96% of the girls participating at MTG come from the nine Mijikenda tribes on the coast of Kenya. The Mijikenda ethnic community is patriarchal; men and boys have dominant roles and far more opportunities than women. Traditions such as payment of dowries for girls and young women pose a challenge to female empowerment.
The majority of parents are very poor and, instead of attending school, girls are asked to take care of their siblings and families. The majority has little or no education and poor knowledge of their rights, especially their sexual and reproductive rights. They lack skills and knowledge to negotiate safe sex, there is low availability of contraceptives, and those who fall pregnant may opt for an unsafe illegal abortion, or commit to a marriage whilst still seen as a child (under 18) in Kenyan law. Their opportunities for economic independence are severely limited due to their lack of education, which also makes them targets for radicalisation.
Between the years 2016 and 2018, The SOL Foundation helps to educate 5’000 girls on reproductive health and HIV/AIDS, with educational sessions delivered through football matches and training.
More than 2’000 league matches are played every year, and the contribution also covers the costs of training 45 coaches, 45 referees and 45 first-aiders to ensure sessions can be delivered. It also enables the employment of a full-time Child Protection officer, to promote child safety and to intervene, where appropriate, in cases where girls are at serious risk of dropping out of school due to pregnancy or early marriage. 90 girls also receive training on entrepreneurial skills to increase their financial independence.
Laureus Sport for Good Foundation
Laureus is a global sports-based charity that works to improve the lives of young people. Laureus uses the power of sport to tackle violence, discrimination and disadvantage around the world, helping programmes and communities overcome challenges as diverse as gang violence, lack of education or employment, gender inequality and gender-based violence, disability, lack of facilities for post trauma mental health recovery, refugee displacement and more.
The first Patron of Laureus was Nelson Mandela. At the inaugural Laureus World Sports Awards in 2000, President Mandela said: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. Sport can awaken hope where there was previously only despair.” This has become the philosophy of Laureus and the driving force behind its work.
Laureus combines Laureus Sport for Good, the Laureus World Sports Academy and Ambassadors Programme and the Laureus World Sports Awards to form a unique organisation that uses the inspirational power of sport as a force for good.
Laureus was founded by its Patrons Richemont and Daimler and is supported by its Global Partners Mercedes-Benz and IWC Schaffhausen. As per 2016, Laureus Sport for Good has raised over €100 million and supported over 150 projects worldwide which use sport to tackle violence, discrimination and disadvantage. Laureus Sport for Good has helped to improve the lives of millions of young people in over 35 countries and is proving that sport can change the world.