Despite various efforts by the government, gender inequality continues to be a huge social issue in Maldives. Women are often restrained from employment and social life due to gender norms. Although it is important and necessary for certain limitations to exist for safety and religious reasons, there are several situations in which women should have full rights of participation, yet are discouraged to do so. World Bank Maldives partners with UNDP Maldives to find a solution to this problem- and that is through football.
They recently conducted a pilot project that introduced young women in Maldives to football in order to build confidence and conquer stereotypes. With 21 girls aged 14-16 in Haa Dhaal Atoll Nolhivaranfaru, it was tested whether a workshop with an unconventional twist could change girls’ perceptions of their future possibilities.
Two players from the Maldivian women’s national soccer team led the girls in drills and scrimmages, conveying the message that women and girls can do anything they set out to do. Moreover, discussions were held with parents to end discouragement by families. As a result, girls who attended the workshop became less tolerant than before toward gender stereotypes and gained self-confidence.