Development, Empowerment, and Healthy Lives for Women in Senegal through Playing Soccer
"Ladies’ Turn," a film that shows the determination of Senegalese women to play soccer and forge a new path in society, was screened at the Woodrow Wilson School on Wednesday, February 13, 2013, at 4:30 p.m. in 016 Robertson Hall. The screening was followed by a discussion with the film's director, Helene Harder, and Gaelle Yomi, pioneering sports journalist in Senegal and founding member of Ladies' Turn.
The event was co-sponsored by the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination, the Woodrow Wilson School, the Center for Health and Wellbeing, the Office of Religious Life, the Graduate Student Government Events Board, and the Davis International Center. A reception followed the event in Bernstein Gallery.
The film is set in 2011 as Ladies' Turn plans a women’s soccer tournament in a country where “soccer is king.” Despite the passionate commitment of Seyni, the former captain of the women’s national team, and of the women and men that fight at her side, the game is far from won. As the girls take the fields and play for a growing audience, will they be allowed to play through the finals of the game they love? Through the suspense of the competition and the different characters’ stories, the viewer discovers an African Muslim society in flux. Beyond the desire to win the tournament is the aim for a more important victory.
Sports remain a milieu where gender discrimination is systematized, institutionalized, and largely unchallenged. However, in a country where obesity and diabetes are on the rise, physical activity through sports is an important health activity. Excluding women from sports can have real consequences on their health and well-being. Research has shown that women’s participation in sports builds leadership skills, increases women’s presence in public space, challenges restrictive gender norms, and transforms the way that communities view women. Sports are being championed as both a development tool and a women’s empowerment tool.