Basketball partnership boosts gender equality through mentorship programme

In the dynamic world of sports, where talent, passion, and determination know no boundaries, a glaring imbalance persists.
Gender disparities continue to cast a shadow over the industry, with women facing significant underrepresentation and limited opportunities for advancement. From the playing fields to the executive suites, the scarcity of women in decision-making positions such as head coaches, club managers, and referees is a stark reminder of the challenges they face.

Moreover, their presence in management, marketing, and other essential disciplines within the sports industry remains noticeably inadequate. As the pursuit of gender equality becomes an increasingly pressing global issue, it is imperative to shed light on these disparities and explore ways to overcome them, fostering a more inclusive and diverse sports landscape for all.

“Young Africans, and young women, are key agents of change at the community, national and regional levels, across all sectors. We need to support initiatives that enable them to realize their full potential to achieve the African Union's Agenda 2063," says Yacine Djibo, Executive Director of Speak Up Africa.

New push
As part of the Africa Day celebrations, Speak Up Africa and the Basketball African League (BAL) have announced the launch of "Teaming Up: African LeadHERs meet BAL4HER".
This sports mentorship program is part of Speak Up Africa's “African LeadHERs” movement and BAL's BAL4HER platform. It aims to advance gender equality, and women’s leadership and employability in the sports industry in Africa.
"Teaming Up: African LeadHERs meet BAL4HER" launched by Speak Up Africa and the Basketball African League focuses on leveraging sport as a key driver of gender equality and social and economic transformation in Africa.
Through this mentorship program, 6 young African female athletes from Senegal, Egypt, and Rwanda will benefit from the leadership and networking experience of six female leaders in the sports industry.

Over a period of six months, the mentees will be coached by mentors to strengthen their skills and knowledge on issues such as gender inequality in sports, mental health, public speaking, and storytelling.
The selected female athletes are Ndeye Dossou Ndiaye and Ndeye Fatou Beye from Senegal; Lama Fahmy and Ghada Elzend from Egypt and Cindy Kolenyo et Fatuma Mukamugema from Rwanda.
 "The overarching goal of our league is to provide a platform in which young women and girls can take full advantage of the transformative power of sport. This mentorship programme is an ideal springboard to increasing women's representation and giving a new lease of life to the sports industry”, said Amadou Gallo Fall, Basketball Africa League President at the launch of the initiative.

Allison Feaster, Director of Player Development at the Boston Celtics and mentor on this program said that sharing experiences is key to changing the way young girls perceive their careers and their role in the sports industry.
"Mentorship is about cultivating confidence, inspiring trust in one’s abilities, and connecting young aspiring talent to seasoned leaders who are invested in their development. Thanks to my leadership role in one of the most respected sports franchises in the world, I can now create space for exposure and be a conduit to young African women aspiring to work in professional sports. It is an honor and privilege for me, and I can’t wait to empower and engage in a meaningful way with these future leaders!", Feaster said.

Speak Up Africa Headquartered in Dakar, Senegal, Speak Up Africa is a Policy and Advocacy Action Tank dedicated to catalysing leadership, enabling policy change, and increasing awareness for sustainable development in Africa. The Basketball Africa League (BAL), a partnership between the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the NBA, is a professional league featuring 12 club teams from across Africa. Headquartered in Dakar, Senegal, the BAL builds on the foundation of club competitions FIBA Africa has organized across the continent and marks the NBA’s first collaboration to operate a league outside North America.

"Teaming Up: Africa's LeadHERs meet BAL4HER" initiative reinforces the long-standing partnership between Speak Up Africa and the Basketball African League. In addition to its commitment to gender equality, the Basketball African League is also engaged with Speak Up Africa in the fight against neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).

 In 2021, the Basketball African League partnered with Speak Up Africa to celebrate World Neglected Tropical Disease Day through raising awareness and distributing Covid-19 protection kits. This commitment will continue this year with a community-based outreach activity against NTDs scheduled on the sidelines of the Basketball African League "Finals" from May 21 to 27 in Kigali, Rwanda.
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