2nd African LeadHERs Forum: leveraging digital spaces to achieve gender equality

Press Release • 31 March 2023

As part of the second African LeadHERs’ Forum, Speak Up Africa organized a series of webinars called « Webinars of equality ». Held on the sidelines of International Women’s Day on the theme « Digital spaces to achieve gender equality », these webinars aimed to amplify the voices of women from various sectors – from community-based organizations to pan-African sports organizations inside and outside the continent – to highlight the urgency of reducing gender inequalities around the world.

114 participants from Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, France, and Senegal took part in these virtual conversations held on March 14 and 28. The webinars brought together a dozen speakers from various sectors, including health, civil society, and sport. The first one convened the Voix EssentiELLES and was held on the theme « Voix EssentiELLES, all committed to a more inclusive world » while the second focused on « Leadership, Mentorship and Diasporas: the power of sport to achieve gender equality ». 

During these online conversations, speakers highlighted the need to address inequalities that prevent women from accessing digital services as well as gender stereotypes that persist in sport. The panelists of the first webinar included Gbazalé Irad, President of Femmes en Action (Côte d’Ivoire), Bénédicte Bailou, President of Femin-IN (Burkina Faso), Oussama Sagna, Project Officer at JGEN (Senegal), Aissatou Lopy Mbaye Ndiaye, Vice-president of the Global Fund Country Coordination Mechanism in Senegal. These speakers recalled that inequalities in access to digital services accentuate gender inequalities. They insisted on the need to bridge the existing digital gap to ensure equitable women’s access to digital opportunities.

« The digital space is one of the main factors for women’s empowerment. It is a crucial tool to propel the voices of all women to the public sphere on issues that concern them. »

Aissatou Lopy Mbaye Ndiaye, Vice President of the National Coordinating Mechanism of the Global Fund in Senegal.

The second webinar convened several sports personalities such as Diandra Tchatchouang Djadjo, former international basketball player, Axel Toupane, International basketball player, Syra Sylla, President of the association Ladies and Basketball and Marie-Laurence Archambault, CSR Manager at the African Basketball League .

In many communities, gender norms, social representations and the lack of adequate facilities still prevent girls from accessing certain types of so-called « boys’ sports ». On the other hand, at the professional level, wage inequalities, sexualization of women and the invisibilization of their sports performances in the media accentuate the inequalities between men and women. It is estimated, for example, that only 4% of the world’s sports media coverage is dedicated to women’s sports. 

« There are injustices in sport, especially in women’s sports, that need to be addressed by creating initiatives not only by women but also by men to improve the representation of women in this field on and off the field. »

Axel Toupane, professional basketball player

Initiatives such as « Les prochains leaders » launched by Axel Toupane help to address these challenges. Through entrepreneurship and sport, this leadership program helps young girls from the African diaspora design, develop and implement their projects in France. 

In the same regard, the Take Your Shot initiative founded by former basketball player Diandra Tchatchouang Djadjo, contributes to raising awareness among young girls from low-income districts in Paris to the practice of sport and to surpassing themselves. 

« The digital space has a role to play in terms of reaching out to this new generation who is very connected. It is important for high-profile sportswomen to take the initiative in order to encourage a change in mentality and to inspire young girls through digital channels, whether it be in terms of sports or the sports industry. »

Diandra Tchatchouang Djadjo, former basketball player.

There is also an urgent need to address the narrative around women’s sport and the representation of women in sport for a fairer and more equitable world. 

« Representation in sport is extremely important, as young girls do not imagine themselves in sports careers that they do not see or that are not promoted. In this sense, digital allows us to facilitate the connection between female sports role models and young girls but also to create our own media and platforms to change the narrative about women in sport. »

Syra Sylla, President of the Ladies and Basketball Association and Head of Communications at Sport Impact

Sport brings people together and sport promotes universal values that contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In this sense, it should be a specific tool to achieve the SDG 5 which aims to achieve gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls.

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