Women and men all around the world have been marching today, more than 100 years since International Women’s Day was first celebrated. The ultimate goal of those marching is to recognize past struggles and achievements, and to draw attention to the many challenges still facing those speaking out for gender equality. Thousands of events have been held around the globe and the issues they are highlighting include, better representation of women in media and politics, and better global access to education and medical care.
100 years ago, the suffragette movement in Germany called on women to take to the streets; and thousands of them did. German women demanded shorter working hours, better pay and voting rights. Their courage was the foundation for the many fantastic women in Germany today whose skills, especially in the field of football, still go unrecognized. It is well known that women’s soccer, formerly known as “ladies” football, has been a wallflower for decades. Typically, sports clubs rejected women. Soccer matches for women were considered indecent and even forbidden! After years of fighting against the odds, female soccer players experienced a victory in 1970, when the German Soccer Association finally gave in and began allowing women’s soccer leagues. Since then, tournaments have been held.
Today, 49 years after getting the same club rights as men, German female soccer players are top athletes. They have won eight European Championships and two world championship titles. It’s no wonder that soccer is also becoming increasingly popular among women. More than a million women and girls now play in German clubs. In 2011, the world championship in women’s soccer was held for the first time in Germany.
My Project: #kickitlikelira
The struggles, however for female soccer players are still not over. Often the media doesn’t reflect womens’ real performance on the field, rather focusing on their outward appearance as a marketing boost. What’s often not acknowledged is that most female kickers are rocking their educational career simultaneously to their passion for football. The goal of my project #kickitlikelira, is to share what hasn’t been spoken about enough: the story behind these wonderfully strong girls and women. How is soccer contributing to their life; to their skills? What is moving them? And why are they eager to share their story?
True to feminist goals, it’s not about comparing or copying the male attitude and media representation. It’s about constructive reporting, to be precise – revealing the woman and the human being behind what’s happening. Today, the world is celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. And let’s face it – could there be a better launch date?
The results of our (street) surveys have only confirmed the situation observed among Germans: many of us don’t know that the Women’s Soccer World Cup is taking place in France this summer. Therefore, one of our biggest aims is to achieve positive momentum for the Women’s Soccer World Cup 2019.
“But why focus on women’s soccer in particular?”, I’m frequently asked in surprised. I usually answer quite simply. Because soccer is strong and beautiful and goes beyond all sorts of boundaries, including cultural, mental and physical ones. For me, the most important part of my work is to create appreciation and a positive awareness of women’s soccer. Kick it like Lira should show German women’s soccer as it is: brave, full of power and highly aesthetic.
Looking ahead with confidence
My hope is that men and women are treated equally with the same rights, the same duties, and pay. There’s no doubt that there is still a long way to go for gender equality. But seeing people around the world rallying together, will give many for those struggling some hope.
FOR THIS PURPOSE and UNTIL THEN WE’LL #kickitlikelira!
#justiceandequality #shereos #kickitlikelira #herbodyherrights #equality #shefighter #AnyGirlAnywhere
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