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In communities like Amudat, women participating in sports activities is seen as out of the norm and only reserved for the boys and men. That is why this year’s Women’s Day commemoration ceremony was historic. The women of Amudat Town Council and surrounding areas participated in the first ever highly anticipated all female football match. It was their way of breaking the bias and creating more awareness on issues of FGM and early child marriage within their communities. It was nothing short of an intense game that saw the women go into penalties as each team was working towards being on the winning side of the historic event.

Amudat T/C group and Linyoi women’s group who participated in the football match are part of the Embassy of Ireland’s Community Based Action Teams (COMBATs) under the “Accelerating the protection of the Tipin and Kor’s Rights” project that seeks to contribute to protect the rights of girls and women through supporting efforts aimed at reducing the prevalence of FGM in the communities of Amudat, Nakapiripirit and Moroto districts.

The ceremony was officiated by Amudat Woman MP; Hon. Betty Chelain Lowoke and several other dignitaries from Amudat Local Government and Implementing Partners (IPs) within the community. Several girls and women groups presented songs and dramas in line with the 2022 women’s day theme “Gender Equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”.

The highly anticipated football match almost did not happen due to opposition from several community members and district officials who didn’t believe in the women’s execution of the game. They fiddled with excuses like “the wind blowing the women’s skirts and them not practicing enough for the match to their husbands not being in agreement with the decision.” But the Resident District Commissioner, Micheal Bwalat and NAWOU Programs Officer stood their ground and demanded it happen.

Admittedly, this was the first time some of the women had played football in their lives but that didn’t stop them. A pure act of bravery! Their revolutionary spirits did not go unnoticed for the entire community applauded and cheered and rejoiced with the 22 women who were confident enough to defy their culture. And what a spectacular 90 minutes they put on!

Linyoi women’s group emerged winners after penalties and they received a cash prize of shs.800,000. When asked what they would do with the money, they responded by saying they would use some of it to draft their constitution in order to formalize their group. This would put them in a better position to benefit from any government economic empowerment programs like UWEP, Emyooga and the new Parish Model scheme.

Linyoi Women’s Group captain celebrating her team’s victory.

The game had a significant impact on Amudat society in that it increased the opportunities for women to participate in sports, provided a platform to practice discipline and maintained the strong bond amongst the women. However more activities need to be done to address gender stereotypes and masculine influence of power that still reign over the community.

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