On Zero Discrimination Day this year, TackleAfrica is challenging the discrimination faced by women and girls. We want to highlight the importance of empowering women to take control of their Sexual and Reproductive Health and to stand up for their Rights (SRHR). Ending all discrimination against women and girls is not only a basic human right, it’s crucial for a sustainable future. Reducing inequality strengthens economies and builds stable, resilient societies that give all individuals – including boys and men – the opportunity to fulfil their potential.
We spoke to Senegalese football coach and project officer, Khady Diop (26yrs) about her involvement in fighting against early pregnancy, kicking out harmful practises such as forced marriage and FGM/C through football in her home country. We also asked her what it meant to her, to be a woman.
“For me being a woman is a great responsibility, it is also a very important position in my country. There is no difference between women and men. If you want to become a football coach, a business leader, president or a manager, you can. As women and girls, we have to take responsibility, stand up and fight harder for what we want because we are just as strong and effective as men if we are given the same opportunities.”
How did you become a project officer for TackleAfrica?
“Through the Association des Enfants Jeunes Travailleurs, I was selected to be a football coach for TackleAfrica and I was invited to participate in the first training courses in 2020. I quickly learnt how to integrate SRHR messaging within football sessions and how to structure a coaching session with important information. It wasn’t easy at the beginning as I had never played football but I quickly got used to the 5-step methodology and I was able to adapt and improve my coaching.
Thanks to my devotion and engagement within the project, I was then promoted to the position of project officer.
Today, I manage a cohort of 20 football coaches, male and female, reaching over 400 children from my community. I supervise the delivery of their sessions and ensure the quality of information.
What made you want to become a football coach and community educator?
I have always been a fighter and active in life. Football seemed a good combination of these two things that I enjoyed. I also wanted to challenge myself to step into a world I did not know, football, and one that is very male-dominated.
I get satisfaction out of being able to reach more girls with important information and encourage more of them to play sport and keep fit.
What topics do you work on with TackleAfrica in Senegal? Why is this work important to you?
I work on early pregnancy, raising awareness on forms of Gender Based Violence (GBV) such as forced marriage. It is so important to work on these subjects because young girls and boys in Senegal do not have access to this information.
Our parents are often too embarrassed to discuss these topics, or, they worry that by doing so, they are encouraging bad behaviours. As a young person myself, I think we have a responsibility to inform our brothers and sisters so that they can protect themselves and others from the harmful impacts of early pregnancy or forced marriage.
Girls in particular need to know that they have rights and that they can choose, regardless of what they may have been told.