Gamechangers: Change the Game for Women in Sport

WHETHER it be pushing for the inclusion of long distance women’s running events in the Olympics or advancing the power of sport and the transformational role it plays in the lives of girls and women through its Let me Play campaign - Nike has long been an advocate for empowerment and change in the world of women in sport.

JOIN US in identifying, inspiring and bringing together the next wave of innovators eager to change the game for girls and women in sport.

WINNERS ANNOUNCED! Check out our additional sponsored prizes here.

Competition Winners: The top three entries will win US $5,000 each. After the judges select the 10-15 finalists from the entire competition, the Changemakers online community will vote for 3 winners from among the finalists. Early Entry Prize 1: The best entry submitted by 6:00 p.m. EST, December 12th will win a camcorder and digital camera (Equal value of US $1000) with the subsequent profiling of a video on the Changemakers site! Being an Early Entry Prize winner does not preclude you from winning the competition in any way, or guarantee finalist status—all entries will be equally evaluated per the Changemakers criteria at the completion of the entry period. Early Entry Prize 2: The best entry submitted by 6:00 p.m. EST, January 16th will win a camcorder and digital camera (Equal value of US $1000) with the subsequent profiling of a video on the Changemakers site! Being an Early Entry Prize winner does not preclude you from winning the competition in any way, or guarantee finalist status—all entries will be equally evaluated per the Changemakers criteria at the completion of the entry period.


Winner is Announced

April 15, 2009
  • Launch
    November 11, 2008
  • Entry Deadline
    February 24, 2009
  • Voting start
    March 31, 2009
  • Voting end
    April 15, 2009
  • Winner is Announced
    April 15, 2009

Dear Changemakers Community,

Building on the success of the first “Sport for a Better World Competition”, Nike and Ashoka’s Changemakers join forces once again to launch “GameChangers: Change the Game for Women in Sport”.

Nike has long been an advocate for empowerment and change in the world of women in sport - whether it was pushing for the inclusion of long distance women’s running events in the Olympics or advancing the power of sport and the transformational role it plays in the lives of girls and women through its Let me Play campaign. We are excited to continue our collaboration with Ashoka to focus attention on the challenges facing women in sport today and identify the most innovative solutions to them.

Ashoka is a non-profit support system for social entrepreneurs – people around the world who develop innovative solutions to the social problems that most urgently demand them. To further this goal, Ashoka’s website provides an online, interactive forum that encourages collaboration and discussion, along with competition, to draw out the most effective ideas.

Ashoka’s Changemakers and Nike continue their partnership to identify, inspire and bring together the next wave of innovators eager to change the game for women in sport. We hope you will join us. Between November 12, 2008 and February 25, 2009, we invite you to propose a way to leverage sport for positive social change in the lives of girls and women.

Even if you do not offer a proposal of your own, we invite you to join the dialogue. Your experience and insights are invaluable to the emerging field of sport for social change.

Join the online Changemakers community to make suggestions and recommend resources that will help refine and strengthen the strategies presented by competition entrants. Tell us what you’re thinking, how you see the field, where its challenges and opportunities lie. We’ll need your help again from April 1 to April 15, 2009, to vote for three winners from the approximately 12 finalists who will be selected by our panel of judges – a group of influential leaders in the field of sport for social change.

With your help, we have the potential to catalyze change for women through sport and bring real solutions to our most troubling gender specific social problems. You may already be engaged in activities that use sport to change women’s lives in your corner of the world. Now bring this knowledge to a global community. We encourage you to invite others to the competition as well, so together we may uncover the creativity – and natural drive to innovate – within each of us.

Hannah Jones

Vice President, Corporate Responsibility

Guidelines and Assessment:

Welcome to the Nike-Changemakers, “Gamechangers: Change the Game for Women in Sport” Collaborative Competition, which aims to find innovative solutions and catalyze a community of changemakers around the use of sport to improve community, accelerate development and drive social change for girls and women.

For more information on entering, the online review, and voting please view the competition criteria and time line below, or contact us at [email protected]

Eligibility Criteria

The competition is open to all types of organizations (charitable organizations, private companies, or public entities) from all countries. We consider all entries that:

  • Reflect the theme of the competition: Change the Game for Women in Sport. The scope of the competition is to identify innovative solutions that use sport to improve community, accelerate development and drive social change. Entries are invited from organizations and individuals in all countries.
  • Are beyond the stage of idea, concept, or research, and, at a minimum, are at the demonstration stage and indicate success. While we support new ideas at every stage, and encourage their entry, our judges are only able to evaluate programs that are beyond the conceptual stage, and have demonstrated a proof of impact, even at small scale.
  • Complete the entire entry form and submit before the deadline.

Assessment Criteria

The winners of this Changemakers Collaborative Competition will be those entries that best meet the following criteria:

  • Innovation: This is the knock-out test; if the work is not innovative the judges will not give it high rankings. The application must describe the systemic innovation that it is focused on. The innovation should be a unique model of change and ready for large-scale spread.
  • Social Impact: It is important that the innovation has begun to have an impact on the field it addresses. Some innovations will have proven success at a small level, while others will have scaled to engage millions of people. Regardless of the level of demonstrated impact, it is important to see that the innovation has the ability to be applied in the U.S. and other countries. This will be judged by considering the scale strategy, ability to be replicated, clear how-tos, and a map to reach the big goals.
  • Sustainability: For an innovation to be truly effective it must have a plan for how it will acquire financial and other bases of support for the long-term. Are strong partnerships in place for it to have a ripple effect? Is there a clear financial plan in place?

Competition Deadlines, Procedures, and Rules

Online competition submissions are accepted until February 11, 2009 at 6pm, U.S. Eastern Daylight Time. Any time before this deadline, competition participants could revise their entries based on questions and insights that they receive in the Changemakers discussion. Participation in the discussion enhances one's prospects in the competition and gives the community and the judges an opportunity to understand one's project more completely.

There are three main phases in the competition:

  • Entry Stage, November 12, 2008 – February 11, 2009: Entries can be submitted until 6 pm Eastern US time on February 11, 2009, and anyone can participate in an online idea review discussion with the entrants.
  • Online Review and Judging February 12 – March 18, 2008:Online idea review discussion continues. In parallel, a panel of judges well-versed in the topic and Ashoka staff select the competition finalists.
  • Voting March 30 – April 13, 2009: The Changemakers community votes online to select the three award winners from the field of finalists. The Changemakers Collaborative Competition winners, the three finalists that receive the most votes, will be announced on April 15, 2009 and will each receive a cash prize of US$5,000.

Participating in the competition provides the chance to receive feedback on your blueprint from fellow entrants, Changemakers staff, judges and the Changemakers community. Showcasing your blueprint and the challenges involved in creating social impact advises potential investors about how best to change funding/investing patterns for the sector and to maximize the strategic impact and effectiveness of their future investments.


Early Entry Prize 1: The best entry submitted by 6:00 p.m. EST, December 12th will win a camcorder and digital camera (Equal value of US $1000) with the subsequent profiling of a video on the Changemakers site! Being an Early Entry Prize winner does not preclude you from winning the competition in any way, or guarantee finalist status—all entries will be equally evaluated per the Changemakers criteria at the completion of the entry period.

Early Entry Prize 2: The best entry submitted by 6:00 p.m. EST, January 16th will win a camcorder and digital camera (Equal value of US $1000) with the subsequent profiling of a video on the Changemakers site! Being an Early Entry Prize winner does not preclude you from winning the competition in any way, or guarantee finalist status—all entries will be equally evaluated per the Changemakers criteria at the completion of the entry period.

Competition Winners: The top three entries will win US $5,000 each. After the judges select the 10-15 finalists from the entire competition, the Changemakers online community will vote for 3 winners from among the finalists.

Disclaimer — Compliance with Legal Restrictions

Ashoka complies fully with all U.S. laws and regulations, including Office of Foreign Assets Control regulations, export control, and anti-money laundering laws. All grants will be awarded subject to compliance with such laws. Ashoka will not make any grant if it finds that to do so would be unlawful. This may prohibit awards in certain countries and/or to certain individuals or entities. All recipients will comply with these laws to the extent they are applicable to such recipients. No recipient will take any action that would cause Ashoka to violate any laws. Additionally, Ashoka will not make any grant to a company involved in the promotion of tobacco use.

This contest is open only to those aged thirteen or over, and for whom entry is allowed under the laws of their jurisdiction. Entrants under age 18 affirm that they have their parent's consent to provide personally-identifiable information and to enter the contest.

Sport as Practice for Life: Getting more girls to play

What is a Discovery Framework?

Changemakers begins each collaborative competition by creating a Discovery Framework, a map of the most promising and innovative principles transposed against the underlying factors which drive a particular social problem.

The Discovery Framework:

  • reveals the entrepreneur’s view of a problem
  • highlights opportunities for innovating
  • shows patters in known solutions
  • points to a theory of change for the sector.

The guiding question for the creation of the “Gamechangers: Change the Game for Women in Sport” Discovery Framework was “How can we increase the number of girls and women participating in sports worldwide?”

How to Use the Discovery Framework

Each box within the Discovery Framework grid contains examples of innovators who are using a strategy that fits the given design principle to address a specific barrier.

The clarifying insights, vertically aligned on the right side of the grid, are distilled from the work of leading social entrepreneurs and serve to identify levers of change. The barriers, listed across the top of the grid are core components of a problem that, if changed, could allow for a true shift in paradigm and behavior.

The Discovery Framework offers an at-a-glance look at some of the most effective approaches developed thus far for addressing a particular social problem, acts as a resource for determining how those approaches may overlap, and reveals areas where beneficial strategies have yet to be found. For potential investors, this analysis provides a framework for thinking about where resources might best be placed, as well as a guide for identifying work aligned with their own criteria or areas of interest. For innovators, it provides a link to peers using like-minded strategies who might serve as future collaboration partners.

Nike Discovery Framework matrix

[PDF - 2.9 Mb]


  • Social Stigmas and Prohibitions
    • In many parts of the world, the roles available to women are limited. They may not be able to work outside of the home, or develop an independent identity beyond that of caretaker for their partners and children. Many conservative (often religious) societies prohibit women from traveling unchaperoned, or impose strict rules around dress and behavior. In these cultures, it can be unfathomable for girls to think about playing sports. Even in societies in which women have achieved more parity, athleticism is often discouraged for women, or framed as unfeminine or “for lesbians.” These pervasive attitudes including homophobia, limit opportunities, or even drive an explicit prohibition enforced by violence.
  • Girls internalize cultural stereotypes
    • Children begin at infancy to learn their gender’s role in the world: what is acceptable, or unacceptable, possible, or impossible. Girls quickly internalize unhealthy notions from their families, friends and culture about what it means to be “feminine.” As a result, girls may feel that developing muscles, sweating, being aggressive and competitive, are aspects of participating in sport that would mean sacrificing a degree of social (or familial) approval.
  • Lack of parity in facilities, equipment and funding
    • Perception of lack of interest among girls and women, along with a societal de-valuing of sports as an experience for girls, leads to a scarcity of basic resources. While certainly resource constraints affect both boys and girls in low-income population, this shortage falls disproportionately on girls.
  • Perception shapes the future
    • The lack of women in leadership roles around sport-as coaches, in media covering sport, as high-profile athletes-reinforces the stereotype that these roles are not for women. Girls look at the system and don’t see a role for themselves in the future.

Design Principles

  • Make the First Step Easier
    • Given the cultural and personal resistance girls and women can face around sport and fitness activities, the “gateway” experience needs to be a small step, not a big one. Strategies to accomplish this goal can include making the activity less daunting and complex, such as walking for fitness or beginning the play in the context of lessons, rather than competition. Making the sport experience a social one that girls initiate into in safe groups is also effective. For older women, pairing a group fitness activity with medical advice or programs can ease the feeling of being scrutinized for trying something new and different.
  • Let Girls Lead
    • Peer mentoring allows girls to assume positions of leadership while making them effective recruiters of their friends. The experience can also give them a taste of what coaching or teaching sport as a career might feel like. This notion of putting girls in charge also extends to giving them control over their own bodies, finding ways to prevent menstruation from being a barrier to play, as well as teaching self-defense.
  • Visibility Multiplies Participation
    • The effect of seeing other girls and women compete in cultures where it is unexpected cannot be underestimated. While sport programs in these places may still nurture girls-only programs, offering venues for them to play publicly is a powerful thing that can re-shape attitudes among both genders. Likewise, initiatives that seek parity or additional support for women’s sports have a deeper effect on society when they are designed as public campaigns, rather than quiet lobbying initiatives.
  • Embed sports with other activities
    • Sports programs can’t expand by relying on girls to come to them. By embedding sports in school programs as required curriculum, by using aggressive outreach strategies that “catch” girls when they’re in the midst of other activities, innovators increase the number of girls who get exposed to sports without having to make an explicit choice to do so. This approach also include programs that look at early sports literacy making physical fitness part of girls lives before they look on it as something to potentially reject.

Framework Organizations

Aadjan van der Helm

This professor of industrial design engineering at the Delft University of Technology created a course in interactive technology design where students formed teams and designed playgrounds for girls ages 8 to 18. Dutch municipalities had noticed a decline in physical activity among children, especially in poorer areas. In addition, girls are underrepresented on local playgrounds. They hardly use existing soccer courts even though the sport is increasingly popular among girls. Van der Helm’s students came up with design prototypes to address these problems, leveraging interactive technology that children play with at home. The resulting prototypes aimed to lower barriers to participation, encourage leadership, and foster confidence. While the prototypes are unlikely to be developed further, Van der Helm’s project demonstrated the potential for design to bridge the gap, challenging future designers to think outside the sandbox.

Ana Moser

Ashoka Fellow 2007, Brazil

A retired professional volleyball player, Ana Moser is bringing physical education into Brazil’s schools and opportunities for children across the socioeconomic spectrum to participate in sports through her Institute of Sports and Education (IEE.) Advocating sports as an essential tool for teaching critical thinking skills, teamwork, civic participation and healthy lifestyle habits, IEE provides quality physical education for children, particularly in underserved low-income areas, either formally, in partnership with schools, or informally, in partnership with other community organizations. IEE’s Social-Educational Sport Centers bring together diverse stakeholders-physical education professionals, community organizations, city halls, private companies and the public sector-to offer sports, social, and educational activities that teach children and teenagers critical thinking and proactive citizenship. The centers build physical education curriculums in partner schools, and IEE’s course for physical education teachers has trained more than 120 teachers who together reach 2,800-plus children each month.

Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative

United States

The Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative (BAWSI) is a public benefit, nonprofit corporation that creates programs and partnerships through which women athletes bring health, hope and wholeness to the community. Founded in 2005 by Olympic and World Cup soccer stars Brandi Chastain and Julie Foudy and Marlene Bjornsrud, former general manager of the San Jose CyberRays women’s professional soccer team, BAWSI inspires girls, women and families to develop leadership skills, community service and pursue their sports endeavors. BAWSI Girls Fitness Teams primarily target girls who lack opportunities to participate in sports programs, especially youth in underserved, underrepresented communities. Girls and young women participate in an 8-week curriculum of individual coaching and mentoring by top college women athletes in a weekly after-school fitness program. Coaches and athletes share positive examples from their own lives and lead the girls in work of affirmation—respect responsibility and teamwork.


Kenya, 2007

Boxgirls International provides girls and young women living in distressed urban areas with opportunities to learn conflict resolution and self-protection skills, and to be confident and effective leaders in their communities. Through both running and amateur boxing activities, Boxgirls helps girls and women strengthen their bodies and learn to work effectively to solve problems in multicultural groups. The girls’ passion for sport is also used to teach de-escalation techniques, negotiation, presentation and intercultural communication skills. Additionally, Boxgirls offers international coach development and is planning to organize several international exchanges with other boxing hubs. Growing from its founding roots in Berlin, Germany, Boxgirls’ Nairobi, Kenya, hub provides more than 60 young women with weekly self-defense and conflict resolution training to help them negotiate daily struggles and promote self-confidence and healthy lifestyle behaviors.

The Chosen Few

This lesbian women’s soccer team hails from Soweto in South Africa and pushes for recognition, equal treatment, and respect at a time when it continues to be dangerous for women to be out in the country. The team is sponsored by the Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW), an advocacy group for black lesbian women. In 2006, the team won the bronze medal in the Gay Games and two years later competed in the 2008 London International Gay and Lesbian Football Association World Championships. With South Africa set to host the FIFA World Cup in 2010, the outspoken team is bringing much needed attention to discrimination and crime against women in South African’s LGBT community. When a black lesbian soccer player who played for a different team was brutally raped and murdered in Johannesburg in April 2008, protests in the street over her death forced the African National Congress to pay attention. In the past, local police were said to “lose” key documents in similar cases. This time, the courtroom was full and a judge denied bail for the five suspects.

Coaching Association of Canada


More than 95 percent of an estimated 1.2 million coaches in Canada coach at the community sport level. While the number of female players in softball, hockey and soccer is growing significantly, less than 5 percent of the coaches in these three sports are women. The Coaching Association of Canada’s (CAC) “We Are Coaches” campaign is working to increase the number of female coaches at the community level from 5 to 10 percent nationally in three years. Launched in 2006 in partnership with three national sports organizations- Hockey Canada, the Canadian Soccer Association and Softball Canada- CAC offers women quality coach training through Canada’s National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP.) Eight communities across Canada participated in the campaign during its first year, and the program has expanded to include 15 additional sports and widespread community involvement.

Coaching Boys into Men

This UNICEF campaign, created in collaboration with the Family Violence Prevention Fund, takes the view that soccer coaches have an important role that extends beyond the field. One key part of the initiative is a guide for coaches, who have the potential to be role models, teachers, friends, and parental figures. This influence can be tapped to prevent and address discrimination and violence against women. The campaign’s guide is straightforward and practical, providing realistic examples of “teachable moments” from the soccer field and provide corresponding suggestions on how to deal with each situation. In one example a jealous midfielder’s girlfriend appears with a gashed lip the day after she spoke to another boy at a party. The guide is based on the FIFA Fair Play Code and provides an anti-violence oath that each player can take.

Designers on a Mission

Nike, 2005

Nike is inspiring young Muslim women to engage in sports by working directly with the women to make culturally-sensitive sports apparel that provides appropriate cover and is also designed for sport performance. Armed with its corporate and human resource assets in design, tailoring and materials skills/knowledge, Nike and young Muslim women in Dadaab Kenya’s refugee camps are creating simple, easy and cost effective sports apparel that can survive the camps harsh temperature and wash conditions. Developing the apparel enhances the refugee women’s livelihoods and promotes life and tailoring skills as well as community building. The project’s “How To” packet of simple patterns and instruction for making sports uniforms can be tailored for use by other- not just Muslim-refugee camps to build capacity for women to cut and sew their own designs. Additionally, any Muslim community globally can use the packet to develop sports apparel for professional or nonprofessional women who can fashion the uniforms to adhere to cultural norms that would otherwise prevent women from playing sports. More than 500 women and 40 seamstresses in Dadaab camp have benefited from the Designers on a Mission project.

Gilberto Dimenstein

Ashoka Fellow 2006, Brazil

Gilberto Dimenstein is addressing the most serious shortcomings of formal primary and secondary education in Brazil through his Neighborhood as School initiative (NAS), which supplements in-school learning with a broad array of community-based activities that nurture the creativity of children and youth, hone their skills in developing group projects, and introduce them to the worlds of work and community service. Engaging the energy, enthusiasm, and creativity of children and youth between the ages of 4 and 18, the NAS venture creates activities that unite learning and action, draw on a wide range of community resources, and promote social cohesion and community improvement. Launched in 1997 as a pilot project in a socially diverse neighborhood of São Paulo, the NAS initiative now includes more than a dozen separate undertakings that use the neighborhood's facilities and mobilize volunteers and financial support from public, private, and citizen sector organizations working in the community. They have engaged more than 700 youth in 130 separate ventures, including a computer education program for seniorsin which youth assume the educator's rolea year-long internship program at a local radio station and an urban intervention program with an important wall art component.

Trevor Dudley

Ashoka Fellow 2008, Uganda

Building on the success of Kampala Kids League (KKL), the volunteer-run youth soccer league he started in Uganda's capital city of Kampala in 1998, Trevor Dudley is now using KKL and the related endeavors it has inspired, to involve communities throughout the region in nurturing children. In their efforts to focus students on academic goals, teachers and parents in Uganda had overlooked critical developmental needs of children. Kids lacked chances to play hard, learn teamwork and goal-setting, experiment with leadership, and pursue shared goals alongside children of diverse backgrounds. Drawing on his own childhood experiences and those of his kids, Dudley saw that sports-specifically, a carefully structured sports league-could fill in many of the missing gaps in learning and skill development. KKL has evolved to offer more than 14,000 childrenboys and girls, Ugandans and foreigners, rich and poor chances to train, play, win, lose, and grow up together.

Fabian Ferraro

Ashoka Fellow 2000, Argentina

Actions to address Argentina’s social problems, particularly in very poor communities, have traditionally been vertically implemented by the government without regard for beneficiaries’ real needs. Fabian Ferraro is changing this by encouraging citizens to take a role in their own development, and re-engaging youth in the improvement of their own neighborhoods and betterment of their own lives. Ferraro facilitates youth leadership through a strategy that partners human and financial resources from different local sectors around Argentina to address social problems in poor communities. A former street child and professional soccer player, Ferraro is tackling the pervasive and growing problem of Argentine adolescents who neither work nor attend school. Ferraro’s own experience has taught him that before reinserting at-risk youth into the formal education system or training them to enter the labor market, as is the common practice, they must first build self-esteem and social capacity for mainstream participation. Through his organization, Defensores del Chaco, Ferraro creates opportunities for at-risk youths to become community leaders and address the problems affecting their lives in the process.

Go Sisters


EduSport, a non-governmental organization based in Zambia’s capital, created the go Sisters program to empower girls through sport. The idea behind EduSport is that sports can serve as way for underprivileged youth to learn since nearly every child in the country is an active participant in sports, whether watching or playing. Go Sisters targets girls ages 8 to 16 with health education and training to become peer coaches, which gives them an opportunity to demonstrate leadership. One participant who plays basketball reported that "Go Sisters has helped me realize that girls and boys are equal and I have discovered that I can do things that I thought were only done by boys. Go Sisters has helped me learn how to use my spare time wisely and how to fight peer pressure." A paper submitted to the International conference on AIDS in 2004 recommended, based on the Go Sisters program, that sport be recognized and adopted as an effective tool in HIV/AIDS prevention.



Goal teaches the sport of netball to young women from marginalized communities in India, providing opportunities for personal growth and leadership development. Goal targets adolescent girls—many of whom are school drop-outs, farm laborers or servants—who have limited exposure to the outer world and are expected to marry young and work in the home. Goal provides girls with twice-weekly netball training sessions from professional coaches and interactive workshops. Girls receive lessons on communication, dealing with peer pressure, nutrition, health, hygiene, HIV/AIDS, sexuality, environment issues, computer skills, public speaking and financial literacy. The Naz Foundation trust, a New Delhi-based organization that works on HIV and sexuality issues, launched Goal in 1997. In its first program year, Goal served more than 80 young girls and more than 600 people through gender sensitization events in communities and colleges across the region.

Dr. Fadila Ibrahimbegovic

Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Bosnian War displaced nearly two million people, including countless women and children who experienced tremendous suffering and serious mental and physical consequences in the ethnic conflict. To help rehabilitate war-traumatized women in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dr. Fadila Ibrahimbegovic-Gafic from the University of Sarajevo is using physical activity and recreational sport to improve women’s quality of life and emotional well-being. Her study succeeded in measurably reducing the stress of nearly 150 women, ages 40-55, who enrolled. The program also changed the women’s attitudes towards physical exercise; Ibrahimbegovic-Gafic also runs “Walking for Health” programs, a simple, low stress activity that improves strength, confidence and community for women rebuilding their lives.

The Ishaq Program


The Ishaq Program is a holistic intervention for adolescent girls (ages 13-15) that use education and sports to develop girls’ leadership and decision-making skills. Started in 2001 by a partnership of non-profit organizations including Save the Children, Ishaq also engages parents, adolescent boys and community leaders to provide safe environments for girls. Safe, supportive spaces including schools and youth centers serve as project venues where girls learn life and literacy skills, and a core curriculum in Arabic and mathematics during classes that accommodate their domestic schedules. Additionally courses include health and the environmental as well as developing income-generating skills. A companion awareness-raising program for illiterate girls ages 9-25 also offers lessons on identity, family, and community; girls’ rights and duties; reproductive health and nutrition. Ishaq’s sports curriculum teaches girls the basic rules and skills in volleyball, soccer, basketball, and handball. Teachers are educated girls from participating villages nominated by local community leaders. An evaluation of Ishaq demonstrated the programs positive impact on literacy levels and participation in sports, as well as shifting attitudes about early marriage, female genital mutilation and other harmful practices.

The Kenyan American Soccer Exchange


The KASE program helps develop leadership skills in young Kenyan women and girls by using soccer as a means to break social and cultural barriers. The initiative is the result of a partnership among Nike Inc., Mathare Youth Sports Association, and CARE. In Kenya many impoverished children are in need of positive role models, KASE participants travel to the United States to play games with American children, learn about professional soccer opportunities in the country, and learn new skills through workshops in Kenya. A KASE team player told CNN in 2008, “Many parents, they think that the boys are the ones who are supposed to play football. But now I can go and change that attitude by starting coaching younger girls, and making them believe that football is also meant for girls like us.”

Souadou Diabaté Koné

Ashoka Fellow 2002, Mali

Souadou Diabeté Koné is helping root out gender discrimination in Mali by guiding and coaching adolescent girls to develop confidence in themselves and find ways to have their voices heard in society. Until now, social programs in both rural and urban areas of Mali have ignored the unique needs of adolescent girls. Through her organization, the Malian Association for the Promotion of Young Girls and Women, Koné, helps local girls and young women between the ages of 10 and 25 escape social isolation and learn skills that bolster both their self-esteem and give them a way to earn money. The activities her group organizes for the girls, from literacy and entrepreneurship classes to intramural soccer teams, promoted self-confidence, achievement and teamwork.

Lusí Margiyani

Ashoka Fellow 1998, Indonesia

Lusí Margiyani is helping refocus the energies of Indonesia’s women’s rights movement on the socialization of young girls. Convinced that girls’ self images are blighted at very early ages, she works closely with families, schools and religious centers to help young girls develop positive attitudes about their potential. Margiyani is challenging women’s secondary status in Indonesia through child-focused campaigns in major social institutions including mosques, schools, families and the mass media. Until now, Indonesia’s gender awareness initiatives have focused upon the issues confronted by adult women as the victims of a repressive legal system, male domination, domestic violence, unfair labor practices, etc. Margiyani seeks to prevent these problems by working with children to prevent hem in the first place. Margiyani set up her Organization on the Study of Development in Women and Children (LSPPA) with two goals: to help set up income generating programs among poor women in rural regions and to unleash a ‘virus of awareness’ among the urban middle class. Her long-term aim is to achieve nationwide behavioral change- a new egalitarian culture in which girls are not limited in their development and opportunities.

Mathare Youth Sports Association


This self-help program for young Africans living in Mathare, a slum outside of Nairobi uses sports as a catalyst for environmental cleanup, AIDS prevention, community service, and leadership training. One of MYSA’s goals is to change gender attitudes. The increasing popularity of soccer among girls in Kenya and abroad led to a new MYSA program for girls in 1996. However, the program faced challenges since many boys in the association didn’t believe girls could play, the girls doubted their own abilities, and their mothers wanted them to stay home to help with housework. MYSA and the Stromme Foundation brought professional female soccer players from Norway to run clinics for the girls. Watching the women successfully score goals on male goalkeepers inspired confidence and participation. Currently more than 3,500 girls play on MYSA teams and the top female players have become referees and coaches fro younger boys’ teams.

Moving the Goalposts

Kilifi, Kenya

Moving the Goalposts (MTGK) uses football (soccer) to help vulnerable young women develop essential life skills—confidence, leadership and self-esteem. Football also becomes a way to get girls in the door to deliver lessons about reproductive health, human rights and economic empowerment. MTGK tackles social problems like low retention in school, early and unwanted pregnancies and vulnerability to HIV/AIDS. Through peer-led education, girls spread the messages they learn from other girls who serve as role models. Since beginning its work with 120 girls in 2001, MTGK has grown to serve 3,000 girls and young women: 237 have been trained as coaches, 136 as referees, 33 in basic first aid, 82 as peer educators and 100 others in leadership roles. Thousands of girls participate in annual leagues in Kilifi district and in MTGK school tournaments. MTGK is expanding its network throughout east Africa to organize and leverage stakeholder support and shift cultural attitudes and perceptions about young women's participation in sport in Kenya.

Play Soccer


Often a lack of appropriate clothing prohibits children in Zambia from fully participating in soccer. Play Soccer provides shorts that children, especially girls, can wear during games. In addition to addressing the basic challenge of proper sport clothing, Play Soccer’s curriculum includes weekly sessions that teach soccer skills, health and physical development, and social development and life skills. Life skills are taught through “learning circle” activities that take place on football pitch. Play Soccer also trains local volunteers as instructors, offering leadership opportunities to men and women in t he community members.

Tunaweza (Kiswahili: We Can Do It!)

Kenya, 2007

A lack of affordable sanitary pads in east Africa means countless girls and women use unhygienic, inconvenient materials, miss days of school and forgo participation in sports. Youth and sports development organizations moving the goalposts (Kenya) and the kids league (Uganda) partnered with the only girls' secondary school in the remote town of Marsabit, Kenya, to provide affordable, hygienic sanitary protection and social support for vulnerable teenage girls and young women. The unique program, Tunaweza (Kiswahili: We Can Do It!), produces and markets low-cost sanitary pads using natural materials and technology developed by professor Musaazi at Uganda's Makerere University. Besides increasing school attendance and helping girls and young women exercise their right to participate in sports, Tunaweza provides women who manufacture the sanitary pads opportunities for employment and economic independence. Additionally, the products are packaged with health education on hygiene, reproductive health, safe sex and HIV/AIDS prevention messages and related health-promoting information. In its initial phase, Tunaweza supplied affordable sanitary pads to more than 5,000 girls.

Quazi Iqbal Sabery

Ashoka Fellow 2002, Banglades

Quazi Iqbal Sabery is providing thousands of children in rural Bangladesh chances to take charge of their free time, develop leadership skills and contribute productively to their families and communities. Sabery is creating after school centers in 67 areas that involve more than 1600 young people. The programs are largely run by children and offer a wide range of activities for boys and girls, ages 8 to 16. Children are responsible for planning and carrying out each day’s activity, including sports, debate, writing competitions, health education and community building. The kids also run immunization-awareness campaigns, motivate peers to attend school, and organize sports competitions-activities from which they learn important communication and decision-making skills, while also avoiding falling prey to human trafficking and other serious problems.

Students Run L.A.

Founded by high school teachers Harry Shabazian in East Los Angeles in 1989, this organization gives at-risk secondary students an opportunity to train for and participate in the City of Los Angeles Marathons. Shabazian found that running the marathon was a transformative experience for him. For thousands of students, doing the same has provided character development, improved health, and the opportunity to set a goal and work towards it. This process has translated into better performance at school: more than 90% of the program’s participants graduate compared with the 65% graduation rate for the district. In the past 19 years, 34,000 students have participated in the program. For girls, especially, the program has been a boost. One young woman told the organization, “If I can run 26.2 miles four times, I can surely succeed in college.”

Thin Ice (the movie)

Indian Himalayas

Swedish filmmaker Håkan Bertha’s inspiring film, Thin Ice (2007,) documents the efforts of enthusiastic young women from remote villages in the Indian Himalayas to play ice hockey. Traditionally a male sport, social norms have discouraged women and girls from participating in the game. A former ice hockey player himself, Berthas films the young women as they create their own hockey team, which unites girls from different groups and background, and fashion their own ice courts, ice skates and hockey sticks. The film centers on Dolkar, a young Buddhist woman from Ladakh in the Indian Himalayas, who wants to play ice hockey in the local tournament with her peers, but faces opposition from men on the board of the winter sport club. When the girls are told they are not allowed to compete, the young women protest and Dolkar becomes their natural leader. As the only one in her family who has been given the opportunity to study, she enlists support of her school’s director who helps recruit an American ice hockey coach. Together they travel over the mountain to the Muslim village Kargil and create a joint team. With their love for the sport, the girls shift community attitudes and challenges stereotypes.

Jim Thompson

Ashoka Fellow 2004, United States

Working against the dominant conception of sports as a sphere for flamboyant and ruthless competition, Jim Thompson reestablishes competitive athletics as a space in which all youth can acquire the skills and values they need for lasting success.

He is leading a movement to make character education the primary focus of youth sports without sacrificing competitiveness. During the rise of the sports entertainment industry over the last 30 years, youth sports have seemed to lose their power to teach social values, such as, sportsmanship, community, and respect. Thompson recognizes in sports an unparalleled opportunity for young people to build skills of leadership, communication, and cooperation. Where many others have failed, his Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) has succeeded in crafting practical tools to enable parents and coaches to teach core social values through sport. In their work with the PCA, coaches learn to support respect, reciprocity, and emotional resiliency in their players. PCA works with youth sports organizations and schools to create a culture in which Honoring the Game is paramount value.

Weera Suwannachot

Ashoka Fellow 2003, Thailand

Although youth constitute one of the major consumers of mainstream media in Thailand, youth-driven television–television by, for, and about youth–has been largely absent. Weera Suwannachot is now putting the power of the media in the hands of youth by creating a school-based pool of young news reporters trained and linked to produce professional segments on youth issues for broadcast on regional and national television networks. Suwannachot’s Thai Youth News Center (TYNC) is playing an important role in raising the voice of underrepresented groups and bringing social issues into public discussion. Working in partnership with UNICEF, the National Youth Bureau, and the Ministry of Education, the TYNC helps establish local, volunteer-run youth news clubs in high schools selected to represent the economic, social, geographic, and ethnic diversity of the country. Suwannachot and his staff then train youth participants to independently produce their own professional-standard, TV youth news-stories about how events affect the news production process, from conceiving and researching the story to actually filming the interviews. By partnering with the Mass Media and Communications Authority of Thailand, Suwannachot obtained noncommercial airtime on national television to broadcast these youth reports weekly.

Women Win

The Netherlands

Women Win is the first-ever international women's fund that supports sport and physical activities as instruments for social change and women's empowerment. recognizing that too few financial resources are available to implement and scale-up women's and girls' sport programs globally, especially those for underprivileged girls, Women Win launched in February 2007 to create a platform where organizations can link up for learning as they mobilize a worldwide movement for gender equality. Women Win has two main objectives: first, to support innovative, sustainable and empowering sport programs by identifying and implementing such programs; identifying and supporting program fellows and strengthening organizational capacity; and demonstrating the impact of sport as an empowerment strategy. In its first year, Women Win is providing grant support to four organizations—in Kenya, Malaysia, Palestine and the Netherlands—and has elected two young female leaders to join Women Win's fellowship program. Recognizing that diversity and equal partnerships between different sectors is crucial to ensure social change, women win also co-organized a capacity building conference for organizations in Africa and the Middle East and raised an initial 1.5 million euros in funding to 2007-2010 programs.


Total value:
7 000
Competition Winners: The top three entries will win US $5,000 each. After the judges select the 10-15 finalists from the entire competition, the Changemakers online community will vote for 3 winners from among the finalists. Early Entry Prize 1: The best entry submitted by 6:00 p.m. EST, December 12th will win a camcorder and digital camera (Equal value of US $1000) with the subsequent profiling of a video on the Changemakers site! Being an Early Entry Prize winner does not preclude you from winning the competition in any way, or guarantee finalist status—all entries will be equally evaluated per the Changemakers criteria at the completion of the entry period. Early Entry Prize 2: The best entry submitted by 6:00 p.m. EST, January 16th will win a camcorder and digital camera (Equal value of US $1000) with the subsequent profiling of a video on the Changemakers site! Being an Early Entry Prize winner does not preclude you from winning the competition in any way, or guarantee finalist status—all entries will be equally evaluated per the Changemakers criteria at the completion of the entry period.