IWD: Boxgirls

Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures (as part of Gender Across Borders and CARE's blog for International Women's Day.) We can inspire girls' future through sports, letting them discover all of their strengths, teaching them strategy and making them active participants in their own lives.

Heather Cameron Teaching Boxing
In 2005, Heather Cameron, an educational science professor at Freie Universitat, founded Boxgirls in Berlin's inner-city of Kreuzberg. This British-Canadian and graduate of York University in Toronto went on to expand Boxgirls to Nairobi, Kenya, in 2007 and Cape Town, South Africa, in 2010.

Cameron uses boxing programs as a catalyst for social change. But why boxing and not another sport? In a recent interview, Cameron had this to say:

 "As for the special anti-violence aspect, combat sports and self-defense are particularly useful. If taught by competent coaches, they create a framework that is not limited to learning a few physical techniques. Power not only has to do with muscles. When you’re boxing, you have to learn to deal with your limits. It is not just about physical fitness, but also about mental strength. You have to trust yourself and act tactically. Through boxing, you become more self-reliant, self-confident and develop leadership qualities. It prepares the girls to participate in society and assume responsibility."

According to Cameron, preteens and teens are drawn to Boxgirls because they like the idea of learning how to defend themselves and being trained by other women. It's also a means for confronting their fears. Although parents reportedly do no initially take to the idea of their daughters learning to box, they usually come to accept it, and sometimes, even become the sport's greatest fans.

Heather Cameron has plans to possibly expand Boxgirls into Brazil and Vietnam. Not unsurprisingly, Cameron's organization has been the recipient of many awards.

In this short video (2:32), you will see Heather Cameron spar with one of the girls. Check out the map a teen draws of her neighbourhood to show the potentially violent area of her village.

Sources and further reading:

York U News
BMW Stiftung Herbert Quandt
Women Win: The International Guide to Addressing Gender-Based Violence Through Sport .


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