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French Govt Advocates Gender Equality In Sports


(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – The First Counselor of the Embassy of France in Nigeria, Olivier Chatelais gave the charge his opening remarks at an art exhibition organized in Abuja by the French Institute in Nigeria, in partnership with the Embassy of France in Nigeria.

The exhibition entitled, “Game of Confidence”, was created by Taiwo Aina, a Nigerian photographer, photojournalist and visual story-teller and Claire Nicolas, a French researcher and postdoctoral fellow at Kings College, London, United Kingdom (UK).

The project which was conceived by the Alliance francais du Lagos and the Instutut francais du Nigeria, in partnership with IFRA, aims to address the issue of gender through the lens of sports and more specifically through combat sports, which are increasingly practiced by Nigerian women, regardless of social origin.

Chatelais, who stood in for the Ambassador of France to Nigeria, Emmanuelle Blatmann, noted that France is advocating for gender equality and wants this goal to be taken into account in all issues including women’s and girls’ participation in sports.

He said sport is one of the most powerful actors in promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, adding that it is not however, immune to societal problems.

“In many countries, it has been recognized that sport can be a force to amplify women’s voices and tear down gender barriers and discrimination. Indeed, it can also break-down gender stereotypes, improve girls’ and women’s self-esteem and contribute to the development of leadership skills.

“However, women and girls continue to face discrimination in access to sports as athletes and spectators, and inequalities in professional sports, media coverage, sports media and sponsorships. This is why, France is advocating for gender equality and wants this goal to be taken into account in all issues including women’s and girls’ participation in sports”, he said.

He also observed that the 2024 Olympic Games taking place in Paris will be the first to achieve strict parity between women and men among the athletes. He further pointed out that the first time the Olympic Games were open to women was in Paris in 1900, adding that there were 22 women at the time, compared to 975 male athletes (2 percent).

In Nigeria, according to him, the Embassy of France gives its ongoing support to projects aiming at promoting women’s rights and fight against gender stereotype across several states in Nigeria.

“This is why the Embassy of France in Nigeria, in partnership with the French Institute in Nigeria, the French institute for Research in Africa and the Alliance français of Lagos, supports the opening of this exhibition.

“These pictures of women in combat sports clearly defy the misperception that they are weak or incapable. Every time they engage in combat, demonstrating not only physical strength, but also leadership and strategic thinking, they take a step towards gender equality.



“We will continue to encourage actions that contribute to gender equality. I humbly wish this event to be an opportunity to pursue these efforts and transform them into tangible actions, here in Nigeria”, he added.

The first secretary thanked the photographer, Taiwo Aina, the French Researcher Claire Nicolas as well as Ms. Aderonke Bello, the Executive Director of the Fame Foundation, who he said, has been doing an incredible work every day to increase girls and women’s participation into sport.

Similarly, in her remarks, Ms Ogunleye-Bello noted that in a heterogeneous nation like Nigeria, sports is the only factor that unites the people, breaking every barrier, and speaking with one voice. She also added that sports is unarguably a powerful tool for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals vision 2030, leaving on one behind.

She further observed that women’s participation in sports has a long history, marked by division and discrimination but also filled with accomplishments by female athletes and advances for gender equality and empowerment of women and girls.

“Aside from its health benefits, sports have the singular power to change lives and the ability to drive gender equality by teaching women and girl teamwork, self-reliance, resilience, and confidence.

“Women participation in sports defies gender stereotypes and social norms, creating inspiring role models, and showing that men and women are equals in and out of the sports circle”, she stressed.

Ms Ogunleye-Bello therefore expressed her gratitude to the organisers of the art exhibition for coming up with an excellent initiative to portray women’s involvement in combat sports.

Earlier in the event, the guests were informed by a representative of the organizers that from the 13th of September to the 13th of October this year, the Institut français du Nigéria and the French Embassy in Nigeria will be jointly organizing a Photojournalism Festival in the cities of Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt.

The objective of the festival, according to the announcer, is to create a platform of exchanges between Nigerian and French photojournalists, while contributing to media education in the service of more qualitative information accessible to all.

“This festival will also strengthen bonds within the community of photojournalists, inform about the profession, and reflect on its future. Various events will be organized during the festival: exhibitions, workshops, conferences, photojournalism contests and film screenings”, the source further disclosed.


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