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By Ker’Shyra Myrick
In an article by Women in the World, in association with The New York Times, writer Katie Booth proves why it’s okay to play sports like a girl!
Booth’s article, 11 stories of female athletes who made their own rules, takes a look at the female athletes who “have proven they’re fierce competitors in some of the world’s most challenging and extreme sports” in 2015.
With Serena Williams being named “Sportsperson on the Year” by Sports Illustrated, and the U.S. women’s soccer team taking “a stand against being forced to play on turf, which they claim is a sexist practice,” and Ronda Rousey putting the spotlight on mixed martial arts, 2015 proved to be a fantastic year for women all around.
And it helped expose the incredible opportunities that exist for young girls growing up, too.
In Booth’s article, she talks about the women and girls around the world who struggle to even have the chance to play sports, stating, “In Iran, for example, women are still banned from watching sports in stadiums. In Saudi Arabia, girls aren’t allowed to play sports in public schools. Even teams dedicated to women are sometimes dominated by men, as in the case of this soccer team in Iran, on which eight of the players were found to be male.”
But those who are able to play sports have been exposed to “life-changing” experiences, including improved physical health, a boost in self-esteem and having an alternate to early marriage and childbirth.
Booth’s article goes on to spotlight the female athletes whose stories were just as remarkable as Serena and Rousey’s in 2015.
Here are the top three:
In a small oceanside town in Bangladesh, where girls are often pushed into child labor and early marriage at the expense of their education, a group of bold young girls has taken to the water to surf. The group of girls had been working as street vendors, but began taking surfing and lifeguarding lessons with local Rashed Alam and his wife Vanessa Rude. Despite pushback from the community, they quickly proved that they could rip it like the boys. “They’re skating, they’re learning, they’re life-saving, and they’re surfing,” said Rude of the girls. “And so, the goal is for their families to see that difference in their daughters, and the attention they’re getting. And that they’ll start letting their daughters be more free to choose what they want. They deserve better.”
Pakistan’s first all-girl boxing club
Part of the first-ever official training program in Pakistan to teach women how to box, The First Women Boxing Coaching Camp is a beacon of hope for girls in a Karachi neighborhood. The club started when 16-year-old Khadijah asked local boxing champion Nadir Kachi to teach her. As more girls expressed a desire to learn to box, the club grew. “Boys have two arms and legs and so do girls,” said Kachi, “So why wouldn’t these girls fight just like boys?”
Iran’s revolutionary motocross rider
26-year-old Behnaz Shafiei is breaking barriers in Iran, a notoriously conservative country where women are banned from riding motorcycles in public. She’s one of six women who has helped make huge legal strides for women motorcyclists in Iran, working hard to receive official identifications that allow them to race on amateur tracks. “My goal is to be a pioneer, to inspire other women,” Shafiei said in the AP interview. “Together, we can convince authorities to recognize women’s motorcycle racing.”
From the top three stories on this list, it’s pretty easy to see why these girls rock! Their inspiring stories reinforce the powerful role sports play around the world and how incredibly important they are in the lives of all children.
To read the entire article, click here. To learn more about Women In The World, visit http://nytlive.nytimes.com/womenintheworld/about-us/Female athletes Soccer Self-esteem Health
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