In 2012, the United Nations created a holiday on Oct 11 of each year to celebrate International Day of the Girl. It’s not always easy to be a girl – in fact, according to UNESCO, “116 million women across developing countries worldwide have never completed primary school and two-thirds of the illiterate population worldwide are female”.1
Considering that almost 60% of the world’s population reside in Asia2 and more than 25 Asian countries are developing countries3, there is a strong case to be made around the challenges for girls and women throughout the region.
Rugby for women and girls in Asia is a relatively new sport for many countries. Actually, Rugby as a sport for boys is a relatively new sport for many countries. Which allows a unique in opportunity in Asia for our sport to create a new context around what it means to play Rugby as a “sport for all”.
In Laos for example, the perception of Rugby is that it’s a girl’s sport and football (soccer) is a boy’s sport. The union set a strong foundation for gender equity and is a shining example of how setting context can shift an entire perception.
Gender Inclusion Chair, Ada Milby, says that her dream is to “make Rugby played by 50% women and girls throughout the region. These targets are being supported with initiative programs such as Asia 1 Million and ChildFund Pass It Back.”
Ross Mitchell, GM for Asia Rugby additionally noted that “numbers for girls across the region are steadily growing. With the inclusion of Rugby 7s in the Olympics, there is stronger support from NOCs to develop the women’s game”.
Asia Rugby is committed to creating more opportunities for women and girls to “Get Into Rugby” and create pathways in all areas of the game from playing and match officiating to leadership and governance.
Recognising that we are a very diverse region, there is no such thing as a one size fits all solution. Each country has specific challenges to address and the catalyst for change must start with education and awareness.
Why do girls want to play Rugby? Why do girls stop playing Rugby? Knowing the answers to some of these basic questions can help to ensure we are creating environments for girls where they feel safe and empowered.
On this International Day of The Girl, Asia Rugby wishes to acknowledge these challenges and celebrate the talent, potential and uniqueness of every woman and girl. If you would like to know what’s happening in your area, you can visit http://www.dayofthegirl.org/ for more details.