Using sport and the Olympic Values to promote gender equity in communities impacted by genocide.
Building a global community in which boys and girls positively challenge and change gender norms.
Rooted in the belief that sport can be a powerful catalyst for social change, KPI uses the powerful Olympic value of Fair Play to inspire and teach. Fair Play means: respect, community, contribution, opportunity and moral courage – these Fair Play characteristics motivate Olympic athletes and rural Rwandans alike to build more gender equitable societies.
KPI’s Beliefs Rooted in the Olympic Movement:
Gender inequality remains a major barrier to human and community development worldwide. Across Africa, women and girls are consistently denied access to equivalent opportunities their male counterparts receive, and are often prevented from accessing education, engaging equally in society, or participating in sports activities.
In Rwanda, women and girls are not only deeply affected by the persistence of harmful gender norms, but they are additionally burdened with the residual effects of the 1994 genocide. During these tragic months, Rwandan women were subjected to sexual and repressive violence on a massive scale, the effects of which contributed to the country’s pervasive gender gap.
Kids Play International’s Solution
In response to the pervasive inequality between boys and girls, men and women, 3-time Olympian (aerials) Tracy Evans founded Kids Play International (KPI) in 2008, with the mission to use sport to promote gender equity. KPI is grounded in the ‘Fair Play’ value of the Olympic Movement, which champions the idea that sport should be used not just as a physical activity but also as a means of educating people.
After retiring from Olympic competition, Evans was inspired by her mother’s commitment to international medical work and embarked upon what would become a life-changing volunteer trip to Africa. Although she’d participated in sports her whole life and knew intimately the transformative power they held, introducing new, unfamiliar sports to young Africans was eye opening. With no prior knowledge of a sport as it relates to gender or culture, boys and girls began learning on an equal playing field.
The goal of the Olympic Movement is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind.
Olympism is best expressed through actions that link sport to culture and education.
KPI’s Strategic Approach
Working in the rural village of Gatagara, Rwanda, KPI provides a safe place for Rwandan girls and boys aged 7-18 to participate in educational sports activities side-by-side, with support and encouragement from a caring adult. KPI’s gender equity program, Let’s Play Fair (LPF), is rooted in Olympic values and uses sport and interactive discussions to shift attitudes, behaviors and gender norms between girls and boys. It is based on an understanding that in order to empower girls, boys must play a meaningful role in the process so both genders understand how each contribute to a healthy community.
In the spirit of Olympism, the inclusive LPF program demands teamwork and fosters positive relationships between genders in order to complete activities. Youth participants are provided with the opportunity through sport to intensify supportive peer networks and to engage in more frequent and meaningful contact with peers of both genders, ultimately breaking down gender norms and misperceptions about women’s capabilities.
Let’s Play Fair Annual Outputs include:
- Strong relationships with three local partner schools – infusing gender equality activities within the school setting.
- 14 locally trained Coaches (aged 24-35 years old) who run and oversee the LPF program.
- Four Weekly 90-minute LPF sessions with 120+ youth aged 7-18 for the course of the year.
- 720+ hours of annual sports based programming promoting gender equity.
- More than 3,000 community members engaged in gender equality activities and large scale events that aim to shift gender norms and activate participation of family partner schools and community members in KPI program activities.