“The programme gives girls skills and tools that will be useful not only to implement their project in their community but also for the rest of their life.”
Laurent Petrynka, ISF President
She Runs – From running to leading
“Empowering girls in and through sport”i is an excellent summary of what She Runs is all about! Thanks to a multi-facetted programme, She Runs invites young girls to be inspired by both emblematic role-models and their peers as well as empowers them so that they can in turn become inspirational leaders and role-models in their own communities.
The city event as the flagship event of the programme
She Runs is a groundbreaking project tackling health, girl empowerment and gender equality in and through sport and schools, developed by the International Sport School Federation (ISF), with the support of the European Commission (Erasmus + Sport programme) and in partnership with VinylPlus. From 12th to 15th March 2019, this event, which took place in in Paris, France, gathered 2000 girls from 35 countries (500 international and 2000 local French participants) who participated together in educational, cultural, sport and entrepreneurship activities. One of the main objectives of the project is to give the opportunity to young girls to develop leadership skills, to gain knowledge on the importance of physical activity and sport and to take action within their own home communities in order to empower their peers.
Throughout this unique project the girl students:
- Engage in physical activities and promote it;
- Get knowledge and acquire new skills;
- Voice their experience and take action in their local communities;
- Strengthen their involvement with national school sport organisations.
She runs “The Cultural Scavenger Hunt”
Learning from the past
4 keys activities
Acquire knowledge and new skills
She Runs “The Race”
Running all together
Engage in physical activity
She Runs “The Talk”
Strengthen their involvement with their national school sport organisations
She Runs “The Design Sprint”
Spreading the message around the world
Voice their experience and take action in their local communities
Combining culture, sport, talks and skill training, She Runs offers a comprehensive experience to the participants. Within the cultural part, girls were invited to learn from the past through a search for and visits of unusual and iconic sites around the city (Notre-Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the Champs-Elysées, Roland Garros, etc.) to look at sport and the women who have marked history. Marie Curie, Simone De Beauvoir, and Louise Michel all worked to advance the status of women, and all have a connection to the French capital. The first day of She Runs focused on culture during an enlightening treasure hunt in Paris.
On the second day, the 500 international participants of She Runs-Active Girls’ Lead took their place alongside the 1500 girl students of la Lycéenne MAIF RUN for a festive run of 3 km to come together on the quay of the Seine River in the centre of Paris. Throughout the day, these female athletes (whether members of sports federations or not) were offered the opportunity to race or share in sporting moments with famous sport ambassadors such as Camille Lacourt, Marta Pagnini, and Estelle Mossely.
On the third day, a unique “Inspiring Girls” experience took place at the Palais Brongniart with a “Talk” on the connection between sport and the development of female leadership. Women known for their advocacy – including Laurence Fischer, Valentina Marchei and Birgitta Kirvinen – described their backgrounds, ideas, and projects.
The last day was a trip to Station F, the largest start-up campus in the world, created by Xavier Niel. In this incubator, 40 girls from She Runs-Active Girls’ Lead project (selected by the ISF several months prior) learnt innovative methods to design and carry out projects to address physical inactivity. With the support of Design Sprint experts, the girls each developed a simple and tangible project to promote physical activity for girls/women in their local communities (in schools, sport organisations, etc.) and spread the message to the world.
A SDG-aligned event
Integrated within the SGDs’ comprehensive framework, She Runs especially targets the SDG5 Gender equality goal by changing girl students into community leaders through sport. During the 2019 event in Paris where environment concerns were also targeted, two further SDGs were addressed: SDG 12 Responsible Consumption and Production and SGD 17 Partnerships for the Goals. ISF (International School Sport Federation) partnered with the European Commission and VinylPlus – the ten-year voluntary commitment of the European PVC industry – to set up a gender targeted and environmentally friendly event.
Inspiring girls to empower them
The overarching goals of the project are the following:
- Promote the participation of young women in sport by encouraging them to engage in physical activity together with their peers;
- Support the development of young women’s skills in leadership and management in sport, recognising skills that can be reinvested in all other aspects of life: academic, professional or personal;
- Promote the use of school sport, through active participation and voluntary activities, as a tool for gender equality;
- Create and develop a solid network of young women leaders in school sport, able to raise awareness among their peers on the importance of physical activity and of sport as a tool for empowerment;
- Build a legacy for youth, in particular, girls;
- Inspire city decision-makers to further develop local opportunities for women and sport.
The overall purpose of the programme is to give girls skills and tools that will be useful not only to implement their project in their community but also for the rest of their personal and professional life.
From sport practitioners to community leaders
Following the Design Sprint activity, several projects were selected and implemented between the Paris event in March and the Brussels Conference in September 2019. This shows that the event is not only a stimulating gathering but that it has disseminated and been fruitful at the local and community level. Following the city event and the implementation of the local projects, participants gathered in Brussels for a “final advocacy conference” to promote the results and raise awareness among leaders and decision-makers”.
In Bulgaria, England, Iceland, Slovakia and Romania, teams implemented education projects aiming at educating young people (girls but also boys) about the benefits of physical activity and sport on the body and mind.
Bulgaria: Using basketball at Petko Rachov Slaveykov Secondary School in the town of Kurdjali, the Bulgarian team set up a project that featured mixed teams of girls and boys to promote equality and surpass any stereotypes based on gender in sport.
England: 180 girls from Southend High School, aged 11 – 12, took part in a mixture of sporting activities on a designated day. The objectives of the English team’s project focused on educating the participants on the health benefits of sport whilst encouraging students to become involved and showing them that enjoyment can be achieved through participation and not only winning.
Iceland: For three days, in Gardabaer, the Islandic delegation managed to encourage the young participants to get involved in sports, whilst also informing them of climate change. The girls organising the project used presentations and running to pass on these messages to the participants.
Slovakia: The project held at the Secondary Sport School Jozef Herda of Trnava was divided into four different sections: various sport activities; workshops and talks; an Olympic day run and environmental activities. The different activities engaged the participants in different sports whilst also educating them on the different health benefits from being active with additional environmental activities, further informing the young participants.
Romania: Participants from the Mihail Cantacuzino College were challenged to solve a sport related puzzle, with each clue requiring them to complete a specific sport activity in order to advance. The objective of the project was to engage young people in fun, physical activities while at the same time developing their skills in leadership and teamwork as well as promoting the health benefits from being active.
Testimonial of Romanian participants:
“The programme has taught me not only essential leadership skills but also made me develop a strong desire to contribute towards the cause on a daily basis and wholeheartedly support women in sport and the equality between genders. I have grasped every opportunity to speak up about the programme and promote its concept. I have also been applying everything I have learnt in my day to day life, encouraging young women to participate in sport and further perfecting my leadership and organisational skills.”
– Ioana Zăvoianu, Romania
“I believe that leadership was the most achieving aptitude that I have developed from the programme, as well as having a logical approach to any kind of problem. I have used this opportunity to get involved in different activities and projects in my school, but to also become the Charity Prefect in my school. This way, I will be able to organise projects and fundraisers myself, which will boost the qualities that I have learnt. I also made a speech to my colleagues and teachers on supporting gender equality, which was greatly appreciated by everyone.”
– Maria Toma, Romania
Many YouTube videos including self-presentations by country teams and individuals.
#SheRuns Active Girls’ Lead recap: event (Paris) & conference (Brussels)
#SheRuns | Active Girls’Lead
She Runs Active Girls’ Lead
2020 Smart Cities & Sport Publication