British Council in Kenya hosts 2-day conference on tackling gender based violence through football

Premier Skills Kenya
The Founder of HODI, Fatuma Abdulkadir Adan uses Football as a tool for social justice in Marsabit. Photo: Twitter/moscakenya

Yesterday, the British Council launched a two-day conference assessing the impact of the Premier Skills programme in Mount Elgon and Kisumu aimed at addressing the issue of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG).

According to civil society groups and data from the United Nations, Western Kenya has one of the highest proportions of VAWG, with 45% of women having experienced violence since the age of 15.

Premier Skills is the British Council’s international partnership with the Premier League operating in 25 countries across Asia, Africa and the Americas from Afghanistan to Zambia.

Since 2007 it has created training opportunities benefiting 2,300 grassroots coaches and referees who in turn have reached more than 400 thousand young people.

Through funding provided by the Department for International Development (DFID), the Premier Skills pilot project sought to address the enduring challenge of preventing violence against women and girls in patriarchal communities in Kenya.

The conference was opened by British Council Kenya Country Director, Tony Reilly and the 150 delegates listened to advocates of the football programme including Fatuma Adan, who founded the Horn of Africa Development Initiative (HODI) which runs a ‘Shoot to Score’ programme in Marsabit, teaching children to shoot with footballs and not guns.

Launched in 2008, Fatuma’s programme has helped prevent young children from being sucked into ethnic rivalry and conflict.

It has also provided safe spaces for learning a culture of non violence through football.

Also speaking at the first day of the conference were Newcastle United Foundation’s football development coach Tony Threfall and Aston Villa inclusion officer Michael Wynter who spoke about developing value based football content.

During the three-year pilot, the Premier Skills programme has found football is a powerful tool in changing men’s attitudes to rape and women’s rights. Over 85% of the male participants who took part said they had learnt a lot and around 300,000 people have been reached through a multi-media campaign.

There has also been a notable shift in the reduction of gender inequitable attitudes amongst both boys and girls who took part in the programme.

“The approach of using football to address gender issues worked very well as the programme was able to consistently engage young people, especially men and boys”

– Alice Wekesa, The British Council Manager in charge of the VAWG programme

At the start of the programme, 59% of male participants thought girls were to blame for rape and this had reduced significantly to 17% by the end of the football and VAWG curriculum sessions.

It has also been shown that football can be a useful tool in changing attitudes towards gender-based violence among young people in predominantly male-dominated societies.

For more information about the Premier Skills programme, please visit the British Council website.