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Female football players kick-off 16-day campaign to combat gender violence

By Rana Husseini - Nov 25,2015 - Last updated at Nov 25,2015

HRH Princess Basma with Jordanian women footballers who played a friendly match in Amman on Wednesday marking the launch of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign (Petra photo)

AMMAN — Thirty Jordanian women football players came together for a friendly game in Amman on Wednesday to launch Jordan’s activities of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign.

The players, from the women’s national team and the under-17 national team, were united in their goal to say no to violence against women at the Amman Club Academy in Wadi Seer.

“I am proud and happy to have had the opportunity to see this amazing performance... by our female national team football players, whom I consider as my daughters. I will never forget this day,” HRH Princess Basma said after the game.

The princess, who officially inaugurated the activities of the 16-day campaign, described the group effort by the players as “an important factor in changing the stereotypical image of Jordanian women and empowering them”.

Praising the parents of the players, she said they are key factors in supporting their daughters and encouraging them to embrace the game.

The Jordanian National Commission for Women (JNCW), the USAID Takamol Gender Programme — a USAID-funded initiative implemented by IREX in Jordan, UN agencies and the embassy of the Netherlands are supporting the 16-day campaign.

USAID Mission Director Jim Barnhart said that combating gender-based violence “is a priority for USAID globally”.

“The USAID/Jordan mission is proud to work with distinguished partners to join forces and raise awareness on this critical issue,” Barnhart told the gathering, which included university students from various governorates.

Wednesday's game, the USAID official added, is proof of Jordan’s commitment to advancing women’s participation regionally and internationally. 

“The activity is a means to empower women, promote their accessibility to safe public spaces and their active participation in society,” Barnhart said.

Turning to the players, Barnhart told them: “Every time you play football you are making a positive change in Jordan… you are contributing to changing the perspective among the audience and proving that women are equal to men in all fields.”

Nermeen Murad, chief of party of the USAID Takamol Gender Programme, said she was particularly proud of the participation of young men and women in this campaign and “that they all came together to say no to violence and to say it in a positive and constructive way”.

UN Women Representative to Jordan Giuseppe Belsito said this year’s activities “witnessed unprecedented collaboration efforts, where civil society, the UN system in Jordan and the donor community joined forces to build an effective advocacy campaign that is shedding light on all forms of gender-based violence and discrimination”.

“This year we are particularly proud to launch the 16-day campaign with a youth event… to empower them to become ambassadors for a world free of inequality and violence is the most powerful tool we have to preserve this trend,” Belsito added.

Maartje Peters, deputy head of mission and counsellor at the Dutch embassy, praised HRH Prince Ali, head of the Jordan Football Association, for promoting women’s football in Jordan and the region.

Peters said Prince Ali is a keen advocate of women's football and lobbied “FIFA to allow women to wear the hijab during international games”.

The diplomat also stressed her country’s commitment to gender equality as a key component “in our human rights programme for a good number of years”.

Louna Sahloul, captain of the Under-17 Jordanian Women’s National Team, noted that football is a popular game in the world and “we want its magic to spread in Jordan to attract world football fans to support women’s football.”

“We strive for the fever of football in the world to reach Jordan and to bring along its excitement and love of the game to our stadiums,” Sahloul said at the two-hour event.

“We, the players, pledge to do our utmost to perform well during the World Cup competition next year in hope that it will reflect the good level that our women football teams have reached regionally and worldwide,” she added, in reference to the FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup, slated to take place in Jordan in September 2016.

Yasmeen Khair, Jordan women’s national football team player and FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Jordan 2016 Ambassador, urged her generation of female football players to “feel proud that Jordan will host the U-17 World Cup because it will boost women's football in Jordan and the region”.

The colour orange, which denotes optimism, inspiration and the rejuvenation of the spirit, will be the emblem of the 16-day activities to be held in Jordan over the next couple of weeks, which include lectures, workshops, awareness campaigns and free legal consultation services.


The 16 days of activism against gender-based violence are marked globally from November 25 to December 10 every year. 

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