One of the biggest triumphs of Premier Skills in Egypt has been the progress made in challenging gender attitudes and cultural norms.
The high participation levels of women and girls in Premier Skills Egypt are testament to the success of the training programmes and community development initiatives which have been delivered.
Research by Thomson Reuters Foundation in 2017, points to the country’s capital, Cairo, as the most dangerous city for women to live, due to high levels of sexual harassment and violence, the existence of harmful cultural practice, as well as limited economic opportunities.
One community coach, Al Shaimaa Hatem Mohamed El Meligy, is a Physical Education teacher at El Zarqa Preparatory School for Girls. She decided to become involved with Premier Skills to help create a society aware of the importance and benefits of sports and exercise, regardless of gender, age or ability.
I have always had an ambition to change societal attitudes and I have used football and its popularity to tackle this. I wanted to promote the idea that girls can play and introduce sports in every house and then encourage this initiative in my local community.
Her ambitions were realised when she set up a free academy to train women and girls, despite facing several challenges. A lack of funding and opposition from parents of girls and young women were two of the main obstacles. She discovered that ensuring the schedule was compatible with school and studying was important, as was allowing parents to follow up on the progress of exercises and matches.
In 2018, 100% of the trainee coaches who took part in community development training (half of whom were men) left with an increased commitment toward the inclusion of girls and women in football, helping to challenge gender expectations. Between 2016 and 2018, girls made up 51% of the young people who took part in Premier Skills activities in Egypt.