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Paris (AFP) – It’s easier to talk about the rules of a women’s soccer team in the privacy of life; Fifa is developing a pilot project to help girls and women in South Sudan with this sometimes taboo subject.
“Girls’ and women’s football is not just football, it allows them to play, but also to overcome social challenges and some taboo issues,” Arijana Demirovic, the International Federation (Fifa), told AFP.
In South Sudan, a young and independent country since 2011, “they face difficulties in terms of menstrual periods and hygiene, as well as access to sanitary products for women of all ages,” continues this Swiss woman. 33 years old.
Arijana Demirovic’s team came to the capital Juba several times to meet young female football players for this project, which is intended to be extended to other countries. “It is necessary to adapt the education part to their age, but also to provide them with hygienic products. In the end, they all get kits”, develops Arijana Demirovic.
“We explain what the menstrual cycle is,” the leader continues in the workshops. “For hygiene we needed to understand how they did it, what they knew and what they used as traditional products”.
“In Africa, young girls very often use inappropriate fabrics, bed sponges or cut pieces of fabric in their loincloths,” Senegalese Yaya Hélène Ndiaye, head of the NGO Kitambaa, which accompanies Fifa in South Sudan, told AFP.
“They are less embarrassed”
“I’ve been there since the first meeting,” Esther Luis, South Sudanese international midfielder who plays for Munuki FC in Juba, told AFP.
“We are very happy that such a project has come to our country,” said the young actress. “It was really what we needed, it’s great!”
“It’s not always easy to talk about this kind of topic in our culture,” he continues.
“If most of my teammates understand that it’s part of life,” Esther Luis says, “it can be hard to talk about it sometimes in rural areas, you need to explain it to them, because most of them use more traditional methods during their work period.”
But through football “we can reach them. They feel less embarrassed when teammates explain it to them. In our culture, as in most cultures, when older women talk about it, young people can feel shy and awkward. Relaxed.” South Sudanese international loved it.
“Taboo in many countries”
The subject remains taboo, but “taboo in many countries,” Demirovic insists, and not necessarily by the parents or the community, but sometimes for the girls themselves, depending on whether they are at home or not.
He claims he “got so much positive feedback, the girls told us they use them,” and “it also fixed a budget issue for their families.”
There are still challenges, including “the conditions under which they can wash these towels, dry them and get some to reuse,” the Fifa leader said.
This project is “specific to women’s football” and “tailored to the context of the different member federations. It also gives them the power to take care of their health, to lighten the family budget (+ empowerment + English, editor’s note), but also to share this information with other members of the family, sometimes even with It is also to share with the eldest ones,” he underlines the leader.
Demirovic, originally from Bosnia and a supporter of Jedinstvo, the club of her childhood city of Bihac, sees even more: NGOs help girls produce reusable pads, “in the future they can even produce them locally at low cost, and it will also help them in their economic empowerment. South Sudan is a positive example of what football can do.”
© 2022 AFP
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