At Tackle, young people are at the heart of everything we do. So, providing safe (and fun!) environments where they can learn and engage in conversations about sexual and reproductive health is a huge priority. The success of these efforts is heavily reliant upon the social environment we operate in; our programmes do not exist in a vacuum, and so we endeavour to ensure that we are responsive to the realities of the communities where we work and the overall developmental context too.
Thus, over the last 20 years, we have expanded beyond HIV to incorporate programming on Gender-Based Violence (GBV), Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C), child marriage, mental health, and empowering women & girls. Our commitment to gender equality, in particular, is a fundamental principle here at Tackle and one that can be seen at play across all our programming. The same, of course, can be said for our commitment to children’s and young people’s rights. This is why on June 16th, 2022 we joined the rest of the continent in commemorating the Day of the African Child (DAC).
According to the African Union (AU), in 1991, the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the then Organisation of African Unity (OAU) instituted the DAC in memory of the June 16th, 1976 student uprising in Soweto, South Africa. The DAC serves to remember these children and the brave action they took in defence of their rights. The DAC thus celebrates the children of Africa and calls for serious introspection and commitment toward addressing the numerous challenges them. This year, the theme of DAC was ‘Eliminating Harmful Practices Affecting Children: Progress on Policy and Practice since 2013’. This presented an opportunity for countries to take stock of what has been done regarding the adoption of policies & practices and reflect on what more needs to be done to effectively eliminate harmful practices (with particular focus on child marriage and FGM/C). Additionally, it was an opportunity to review the status of harmful practices affecting children in their daily lives, and to assess progress toward the protection and assistance of children who are at risk and/or survivors of harmful practices.
For charities, not-for-profits, and non-governmental entities like Tackle, the DAC provided an opportunity to reflect on and renew our ongoing engagements toward the protection and assistance of children affected by harmful practices. We looked back on recent work on FGM/C and child marriage in Western & Southern Africa, and reaffirmed our commitment to using football to:
1. Empower girls. Together with our partners, we will continue to prioritise interventions that ensure that both survivors and girls at-risk of child marriage and FGM/C are equipped with the skills, knowledge, and networks to become empowered agents of change in their own lives.
“J’ai appris à faire les tirs, à contrôler le ballon, faire de passes précises. J’ai appris que les MGF n’ont aucun avantage sur la santé de la fille. J’ai appris les endroits où on peut signaler les cas d’excision.”
“I learned to make the shots, to control the ball, to make precise passes. I learned that FGM has no benefit to a girl’s health. I learned where you can report cases of female circumcision.” – 11 year old player
2. Change family and community perceptions. Together with our partners, we will continue to raise awareness of the harmful consequences of child marriage and FGM/C, and secure pledges from communities that reflect the reduced acceptance of the practices.
3. Provide services for girls across sectors. Together with our partners, we will continue to support girls’ access to quality education, as well as youth and girl-friendly health services. UNICEF estimates that 34% of girls are married before they reach 18 which affects their education prospects. In Malawi (where our work with YONECO was generously sponsored by Comic Relief), of the 140 adolescent girls on the “Levelling the Field” project who were taken back to school, 62 of them had been withdrawn from a child marriage.
For more information about one of our funders (and their incredible work funding life-changing projects), please visit
Comic Relief https://www.comicrelief.com/
For more information about our partners and the fantastic work they do in their communities, please visit their Facebook pages:
Association des Enfants et Jeunes Travailleurs de Cote d’Ivoire (AEJT-CI) https://www.facebook.com/AEJTCI/
Association MAÏA BOBO https://www.facebook.com/associationmaiabobo/
Youth Net and Counselling (YONECO) https://www.facebook.com/YONECOMw/